More than half of the calories consumed in an average household in the U.S. or U.K. comes from ultra-processed foods. Consumption is already high in the developed world and rapidly increasing in developing countries.
However, recent scientific studies have linked eating UPF with serious health issues like diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Although current studies cannot prove causation, experts believe reducing UPF in a diet is essential for overall well-being.
“Eating this stuff regularly, every single day, every meal, accumulating all these chemicals in our body, they make us overeat by 25%,” said Tim Spector, a professor of epidemiology at King’s College London and the co-founder of ZOE – a personalized nutrition app.
“Most of the ultra-processed food that you find are higher in salt, fat and sugar. They are designed extremely tasty, they’re ready to eat and they are aggressively marketed, especially to children”, Dr Kiara Chang of Imperial College London noted.
In the U.K., where 1 in 4 people are obese, there are growing calls for the food industry and the government to act and offer healthier options to the population. The $128 billion British food and beverage industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the country, employing more than 400,000 people.
“We are calling for food sector companies to report a set of health and sustainability metrics that would be on a mandatory basis,” said Sophie Lawrence, who leads a group of investors called the Investor Coalition for Food Policy, managing assets worth $7 trillion.
“If you’re a leading business, and you know, you want to invest in healthier food, you’re essentially taking a big commercial risk because it’s not a level playing field”, said Rebecca Tobi, senior business and investment manager at the Food Foundation.
So, could ultra-processed food be taken off the menu? Watch the video to find out.