Two very large studies from two European countries have added to the growing body of evidence that suggests what many people already think. People who eat a lot of heavily-processed food — such as breakfast cereal, ready-made meals, muffins and even ice cream — will likely die younger. They are at greater risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure and early death.
Studies from France and Spain point to factory-made food with industrial ingredients as the culprit, in particular ultra-processed food that is made entirely or predominantly from industrial substances and contain little or no whole foods. Of course, dying earlier also requires volunteers willing to consume highly-processed food in large quantities over a long period of time.
The University of Paris gathered evidence from more than 105,000 people over five years. The second study from the University of Navarra in northern Spain monitored the eating habits and health of almost 20,000 Spanish graduates from 1999 to 2014 and was more telling.
Over the course of the study, 335 participants died. Factors such as age, weight and smoking were taken into account. “The top quarter consumers of ultra-processed foods — who had more than four servings a day — were 62 % more likely to have died than those in the bottom quarter, who ate less than two portions a day,” the U.K. Guardian newspaper reported. “For each additional serving, the risk of death rose 18 %.”