December 6, 2023

Epidemiological proof has revealed the antagonistic results of ultra-processed meals (UPF), notably within the manifestation of weight problems. Nonetheless, little or no proof is offered that establishes causality. Lately, scientists reviewed the proposed mechanism related to UPF consumption and enhanced threat of weight problems. This examine is offered within the journal Advances in Nutrition.

Review: Ultra-Processed Foods and Obesity Risk: A Critical Review of Reported Mechanisms. Image Credit: beats1 / ShutterstockAssessment: Ultra-Processed Foods and Obesity Risk: A Critical Review of Reported Mechanisms. Picture Credit score: beats1 / Shutterstock

Weight problems and Dietary Suggestions

Weight problems impacts well being negatively and likewise will increase the burden on the healthcare system. Due to this fact, it’s important to develop major and secondary prevention methods, together with encouraging a nutritious diet.

Latest research have proven that meals processing is straight linked to the weight problems epidemic. To amend this, for dietary steering, a classification system (NOVA) was developed. NOVA contains 4 meals teams, together with UPF, which is thought to be essentially the most problematic meals sort. It’s because UPF has a excessive focus of added salt, sugar, and fat. These meals are designed to be hyper-palatable, handy, worthwhile, and have a secure shelf life.

Primarily based on the NOVA classification system, average UPF consumption has been accredited by the World Well being Group. The “Nice Debates” sequence within the American Journal of Medical Vitamin highlighted the talk that elevated consumption of UPF enhances BMI within the inhabitants. Though a number of meta-analyses and systematic opinions have proven that UPF consumption results in weight problems, these findings can’t be used to formulate a strong dietary advice. 

Dietary suggestions are developed primarily based on epidemiological, mechanistic, and managed medical trial information, that are at present missing. This method helps describe the scope of the issue, establish the susceptible group, set up causality, and characterize the underlying mechanism accountable for the issue.


To this point, no research have documented the mechanistic hyperlink between UPF and elevated physique weight. Many European nations get hold of between 50% and 91% of vitamins from extremely processed meals. Apparently, a current American cohort examine reported that UPF considerably contributes to vitamin E, folate, calcium, thiamine, and niacin. Nonetheless, it’s not clear whether or not this discovering was primarily based on minimally processed meals. 

Sometimes, non-UPF (NUPF) are costlier and require a excessive preparation time. These meals are restricted to particular geographic areas and are topic to availability. NUPFs even have a shorter shelf life, growing the danger of meals spoilage and meals poisoning. Meals processing entails meals security by growing meals shelf life through the addition of preservatives.

Underlying Mechanisms Linked to UPF and Weight problems

The underlying mechanisms associated to the consumption of UPF and weight problems have been categorized into three teams, i.e., meals selection, meals composition, and digestive processes. Meals selection is related to shelf-life, price, packaging, hyper-palatability, and stimulation. Meals composition offers with dietary content material, texture, added fats, sugar and salt, energy, vitality density, components, and sweeteners. Digestive processes are linked with the intestine microbiome, gastrointestinal transit time, gastric emptying time, and oral processing/consuming charge.

The NOVA system gives steering for optimum meals decisions that profit well being. It solely factors out meals that have to be prevented as a substitute of offering steering on parts or frequencies that aids in weight problems. The nutrient contents of meals aren’t mentioned by NOVA. Adherence to NOVA suggestions is debatable, notably linked to UPFs.

Initially, the excessive sugar, salt, and fats content material in UPF had been regarded as the primary culprits selling weight acquire. Later, the economic meals processing system was thought-about the causal agent of antagonistic points. It was once more proposed that meals formulation, as a substitute of processing, promotes antagonistic well being results. Extra just lately, scientists have been involved in regards to the unintentional introduction of dangerous parts, resembling heavy metals, into the meals chain and sustainability. 

Apparently, UPF consumption was not at all times linked with weight acquire, and hyper palatability or altered urge for food didn’t at all times have an effect on intestine hormones or consuming charges. Not a lot information was discovered on the impact of dietary fiber (excessive or low), meals texture, gastric emptying, and intestinal transit time linked to UPF on the incidence of weight problems. Attributable to inadequate information on the microbiome, meals components, meals price, urge for food stimulation, and packaging, the advantages and dangers related to UPF avoidance couldn’t be decided.

Selecting a correctly balanced and diversified eating regimen is significant and intensely helpful to well being. Steadiness and selection are two elementary ideas of the steering supplied by the World Well being Group and the Meals and Agriculture Group for sustainable wholesome diets.