Eating ready meals and chocolate snacks linked to deadly diseases

Henrietta Strickland
February 12, 2019

After seven years, about 600 people died.

The chances of someone dying in the next seven years increases the more sugary drinks, factory-made breads and biscuits, candies and chocolate bars, mass-produced and packaged snacks, ready meals and processed meat they have in their diet, the study found.

The link was clear even after taking into account the greater likelihood of deprivation, smoking, obesity and lower educational background among those who ate ultra-processed food, the researchers say.

"Ultra processed" food is defined as anything which is made involving an industrial procedure, for instance adding chemicals, heat processing or dehydrating. France consumes less of such packaged foods and ready meals than many other countries, at around 14% of the diet.

Last year, the same French team published a study on organic food and how it related to the risk of cancer.

Research has also suggested that artificial sweeteners present in such foods may alter gut bacteria - increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases which are major causes of premature mortality.

There could be several explanations for the findings, the scientists said.

"A vital takeaway message is that consumption of highly processed foods reflects social inequalities - they are consumed disproportionately more by individuals with lower incomes or education levels, or those living alone", Forouhi said. Participants also completed health questionnaires that allowed researchers to calculate each person's consumption of ultraprocessed foods, CNN reported. "More needs to be done to address these inequalities".

The scientists, led by Dr Laure Schnabel from Paris-Sorbonne University, wrote in the journal Jama Internal Medicine: "An increase in ultra-processed foods consumption appears to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk among this adult population".

A study a year ago found 50% of food sold in the United Kingdom is ultra-processed, compared with 46% in Germany and just 14% in France.

The study, which looked at nearly 45,000 middle aged people, found eating such foods is linked to deaths from heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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