Frozen dinners, other ultra-processed foods linked to risk of early death, study finds

It's no secret ultra-processed foods can be detrimental to your health, but they can also increase your risk of early death, according to a new report.

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Researchers from health institutions in France recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, to determine the relationship between overall mortality risk and the consumption of ultra-processed food.

They defined ultra-processed foods as those "manufactured industrially from multiple ingredients that usually include additives used for technological and/or cosmetic purposes," the authors wrote in the study. "Ultraprocessed foods are mostly consumed in the form of snacks, desserts, or ready-to-eat or -heat meals."

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For the assessment, the analysts examined nearly 45,000 adults aged 45 and older for two years. The subjects submitted 24-hour dietary records every six months and completed questionnaires about their health, physical activities and sociodemographics.

After analyzing the results, they found ultra-processed foods made up more than 14 percent of the weight of total food consumed and 29 percent of the total calories consumed.

They also discovered ultra-processed foods were associated with younger age, lower income, lower educational level, living alone, higher body mass index and lower physical activity level.

Furthermore, they calculated a 14 percent higher risk of early death for each 10 percent increase of ultra-processed foods consumed. A total of 602 deaths occurred during the course of the study.

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Although the scientists acknowledged more testing is needed to confirm their results, they believe the additives, packaging and processing of such foods could all be factors that negatively impact our health.

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