Hot dogs and French fries

A new study shows that the increase in the consumption of highly processed foods is more than 10% of all-cause premature and preventable deaths in Brazil in 2019. This is particularly alarming, because Brazilians are much lower than in high-income countries. .

In 2019, researchers reported that consumption of highly processed foods containing few or no whole foods was responsible for 57,000 premature deaths in Brazil. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are gradually replacing traditional foods and meals made from fresh and minimally processed ingredients in many countries. These ready-to-eat or reheat industrial formulas, made from ingredients harvested from food or synthesized in a laboratory, are known to be unhealthy. A new research study by American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Published by Elsevier, it found that increased consumption of these foods was associated with more than 10% of all-cause premature and preventable deaths in Brazil in 2019. This is despite the fact that Brazilians consume far less of these products than high-income countries. .

“Previous modeling studies have estimated the health and economic burdens of critical nutrients such as sodium, sugar, and trans fat, and of specific foods or beverages such as sugar-sweetened beverages,” explained lead investigator Eduardo AF Nielsen, MD, Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health. , University of São Paulo and Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil. “To our knowledge, no study has yet assessed the potential impact of UPFs on premature mortality. Knowing the mortality associated with consumption of these foods and shaping how changes in dietary patterns can support effective food policies can prevent disease and premature death.”

Dr. Nielsen and colleagues modeled data from a nationally representative dietary survey to estimate baseline intakes of UPFs by gender and age group. Using 2019 data, statistical analyzes were used to estimate the overall mortality rate of UPFs consumption and the effect of reducing UPFs use by 10%, 20%, and 50%.

In all age groups and gender levels, the consumption of UPFs ranged from 13% to 21% of the total food intake in Brazil during the study period. In the year In 2019, 541,260 adults aged 30 to 69 died prematurely, of which 261,061 were from preventable and non-communicable diseases. The model estimated that approximately 57,000 people could be associated with the consumption of UPFs that year, which corresponds to 10.5% of all premature deaths and 21.8% of all deaths from non-communicable diseases in the 30- to 69-year age group. – In high-income countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, where UPF accounts for more than half of total caloric intake, the estimated impact will be greater.

Dr. Nielsen noted that UPFs have steadily replaced the consumption of traditional whole foods such as rice and beans in Brazil. Reducing the consumption of UPFs and promoting healthy food choices may require a number of interventions and public health measures, such as fiscal and regulatory policies, changing food environments, strengthening the implementation of food-based dietary guidelines, and improving consumer knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.

A 10% to 50% reduction in UPFs consumption could prevent an estimated 5,900 to 29,300 premature deaths in Brazil each year.

An example of unhealthy junk food

Examples of highly processed foods are frozen pizza, ready-to-eat meals, hot dogs, hot dogs, canned soups, sodas, ice cream, and store-bought cookies, candies, donuts, and cakes.

“The consumption of UPFs is associated with the effects of many diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and other diseases, and represents a significant cause of preventable and premature death among Brazilian adults,” said Dr. Nielsen. “Even reducing UPFs consumption to the level of a decade ago would reduce the associated premature mortality by 21%. Policies to reduce UPFs consumption are urgently needed.”

Having a tool to estimate mortality due to UPF consumption will help countries estimate the burden of dietary changes associated with food industrialization and design more effective food policy options to promote healthy food environments.

Examples of UPFs include canned soups, stews, ready-to-eat meals, frozen pizza, sodas, ice cream, hot dogs, sausages, and store-bought cookies, candies, cakes, and donuts.

Reference: “Premature deaths caused by consumption of ultrasound foods in Brazil” by Eduardo AF Nilson, SCD; Gerson Ferrari, PhD; Maria Laura C. Luzada, PhD; Renata B. Levy, PhD; Carlos A. Montero, PhD and Leandro FM Rezende, ScD, November 7, 2022; American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2022.08.013

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