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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 February 2019

Processed foods can knock years off your life, study finds

Ready meals, pizzas and sugary cereal can increase risk of an early death, according to new research

Researchers said fizzy drinks, biscuits, sweets, frozen food and breakfast bars and cereals can lead to an early death. 
Researchers said fizzy drinks, biscuits, sweets, frozen food and breakfast bars and cereals can lead to an early death. 

Eating heavily processed foods such as burgers, pizza and ready meals can lead to an early death, according to a new study.

Researchers in France surveyed more than 44,000 participants between ages 45 and 64, and found those who ate more processed foods were more likely to die from illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

The study started in 2009 and followed participants over the course of seven years. During that time, there were 602 deaths, of which 219 were from cancer, and 34 were from cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that the deaths were more likely to occur in those who regularly ate 'ultra-processed' foods.

The findings show that eating 10 per cent more junk food can increase your risk of early death by 14 per cent. The research, which was published in the Jama Internal Medicine journal, took other factors into account such as obesity, smoking, and deprivation, but found there to still be a clear link between deaths and a diet of processed foods. While processed foods had been linked to disease in the past, this is the first study to look at their impact on mortality.

The worst offenders

White bread, sausages, chips, fizzy drinks and sugary cereals are among the foods deemed as ultra-processed – essentially anything containing high sugar, high fat and low fibre levels.

“Ultra-processed foods consumption has largely increased during the past several decades and may drive a growing burden of non-communicable disease deaths,” said Dr Laure Schnabel, a nutritional epidemiologist at Paris-Sorbonne University and co-author of the study.

While processed foods make up around 14 per cent of peoples’ diets in France, in the UK it is much higher, at around 50 per cent. In the UAE, ultra-processed foods continue to cause health issues for the population. Not only is heart disease the number-one killer in the UAE, but between 2005 and 2016 the rate of deaths increased by a shocking 215 per cent. In the same period the proportion of deaths from diabetes rose even more – by 219 per cent. Diabetes is now the fifth largest killer, and rising.

Updated: February 12, 2019 12:39 PM

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