We use cookies to improve and personalize your experience. By clicking "Accept", you consent to our cookies. Learn more


The problem with ultra-processed foods

Joe Dickson

Processed foods are in the news again — and it’s not for a good reason. The BMJ just published a review that links frequent consumption of packaged snacks, carbonated soft drinks, instant noodles, ready-made meals and more processed foods with health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and more.

Indeed, this growing body of research supports what we already strongly suspected: Ultra processed foods are generally unhealthy! However, so much work remains to be done to understand. Exactly why, and lumping all processed foods together is not always helpful. 

Factors such as artificial ingredients common in ultra processed foods, the tendency of ultra processed foods to have high levels of sodium and saturated fats, the formation of acrylamides and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in heating and cooking — there are so many potential contributing factors. 

I believe that much more research and clinical studies are needed to understand exactly what factors are responsible for the strong association between ultra processed foods and negative health outcomes. 

Some forms of processing help make food storable, convenient, affordable and accessible to more people. By better understanding what specific processes, byproducts and ingredients cause the health risks associated with ultra processed foods, we can work intelligently to make all food healthier.

Two phones side by side demoing the Merryfield app

Better-for-you brands.Always rewarding.

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple. Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.