THURSDAY, May 30, 2019 (Pharmacist's Briefing) -- Ultra-processed food consumption is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, according to two studies published online May 29 in The BMJ.
Bernard Srour, Pharm.D., M.P.H., from the University of Paris 13, and colleagues examined the correlations between consumption of ultra-processed foods and risk for cardiovascular diseases among 105,159 participants aged at least 18 years. Foods were categorized according to level of processing. The researchers found that intake of ultra-processed foods correlated with an increased risk for overall cardiovascular disease during a median follow-up of 5.2 years (hazard ratio for a 10 percent increase in ultra-processed foods in diet, 1.12). Ultra-processed food intake also correlated with an increase in the risk for coronary heart disease (hazard ratio, 1.13) and cerebrovascular disease (hazard ratio, 1.11). After adjustment for several markers of the nutritional quality of the diet, these results remained significant.
Anaïs Rico-Campà, from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, and colleagues examined the correlation between ultra-processed food consumption and all-cause mortality for 19,899 participants aged 20 to 91 years. The researchers identified 335 deaths during 200,432 person-years of follow-up. Compared with those in the lowest quarter of ultra-processed food consumption, those in the highest quarter had an increased risk for all-cause mortality (multivariable adjusted hazard ratio, 1.62), with a significant dose-response relation. All-cause mortality increased by 18 percent for each additional serving of ultra-processed foods.
"Policy makers should shift their priorities away from food reformulation -- which risks positioning ultra-processed food as a solution to dietary problems -- towards a greater emphasis on promoting the availability, affordability, and accessibility of unprocessed or minimally processed foods," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.