Image copyright Getty Images Ultra-processed foods lead people to eat more and put on weight, the first trial to assess their impact suggests.
Volunteers had every morsel of food they ate monitored for a month. And when given ultra-processed food, they ate 500 calories a day more than when they were given unprocessed meals.The US National Institutes of Health said ultra-processed foods may be affecting hunger hormones in the body, leading people to keep eating.
BBC Food: What is processed food?Ultra-processed food linked to cancerThere are scientific arguments about the definition of ultra-processed food but lead researcher Dr Kevin Hall said it was like pornography - its hard to define but you know it when you see it. Warning signs include:ingredients you cannot pronouncemore than five ingredients listed on the packet anything your grandmother would not recognise as food Image copyright Cell Metabolism Image caption Ultra-processed food consisting of quesadillas, refried beans, and diet lemonade.
Image copyright Cell Metabolism Image caption Unprocessed lunch of spinach salad with chicken breast, apple slices, bulgur, and sunflower seeds and grapes Twenty people gave up a month of their time to live in a laboratory.
For a fortnight they were given either ultra-processed meals or unprocessed ones and then the diets were switched for the second half of the study. The participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted and researchers closely monitored what passed their lips.During their ultra-processed foods fortnight, the volunteers, on average, ate an extra 508 calories a day and put on 2lb (1kg).
Dr Hall, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, told BBC News: This is the first study to demonstrate that there there is a causal relationship.Ultra-processed foods led to increases in calorie intake and in body weight and in fat. Its suggestive that this may be playing a role in the larger population.
Dr Hall said previous studies had estimated the obesity epidemic in the US was caused by people eating an extra 250-300 calories a day. But why?The explanation is, for now, elusive. The human guinea pigs reported both meals were equally tasty, so a preference for ultra-processed was not to blame.The.