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Food, Farming and Nutrition

Journal Abstracts
Sep 14, 2022

Food, Farming and Nutrition

Ultra-Processed Food Could Lead to an Early Death

Journal Abstracts
May 29, 2024

Another new study highlights the dangers of consuming ultra-processed food: you could be at risk for an early death.

An Italy-based study compared the role of nutrient-poor foods with ultra-processed foods in the development of chronic disease and early death and found that both types of foods increased the risk of an early death, especially from cardiovascular diseases.

The study included 22,895 adults over the age of 35 to examine the association between diet and mortality risk. Ultra-processed food was defined as industrial formulations made mostly or entirely from substances extracted from foods or derived from food constituents often containing added flavors, colors, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives and little or no whole foods (e.g., carbonated drinks, processed meat, sweet or savory packaged snacks).

When researchers compared the two types of food to see which contributed the most to the risk of an early death, ultra-processed foods were associated with poor health outcomes independently of their low nutritional composition, but not the other way around. The higher mortality hazards associated with a diet high in ultra-processed foods were ascribed to altered renal function and increased markers of inflammation.

These findings suggest that part of the mortality risk associated with a nutritionally unbalanced diet is due to a higher degree of processing that usually characterizes nutrient-poor foods, and that both food processing and the nutritional quality of food should be considered when looking at the diet-disease relationship.

From a public health perspective, this study reinforces the opportunity to reformulate dietary guidelines worldwide, by paying more attention to the degree of processing of foods along with nutrient-based recommendations.


Monaccio, M., et. al. (2022, August 31). Joint association of food nutritional profile by Nutri-Score front-of-pack label and ultra-processed food intake with mortality: Moli-sani prospective cohort study. BMJ. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2022-070688

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