Home HEALTH Ultra processed foods really do lead to weight gain

Ultra processed foods really do lead to weight gain

FILLING your plate with ultra processed foods really does appear to lead people to eat more and gain weight, according to a new study.
Ultra processed foods refers to products that tend to go through a number of manufacturing steps to be produced, and contain ingredients that result from industrial food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers, according to the study.
For example, an ultra processed breakfast meal could consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while an unprocessed breakfast could contain oatmeal with bananas, walnuts and skim milk.
The study, published May 16 in the journal Cell Metabolism, involved 20 healthy volunteers who spent about a month in a laboratory at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where all of their meals were prepared for them. Participants were randomly assigned to a diet of either ultra processed or minimally processed foods for two weeks, after which they were switched to the opposite diet for another two weeks. Importantly, meals for both groups had about the same amount of calories, sugars, fiber, fat and carbohydrates; participants could eat as much as they wanted.
The researchers found that, when people were given the ultra processed diet, they ate about 500 calories more per day than they did when they were on the unprocessed diet. What’s more, participants gained about 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) while they were on the ultra processed diet; they lost about 2 pounds while on the unprocessed diet.
Previous studies that involved large groups of people have linked diets high in ultra processed foods with health problems, and even a higher risk of early death. But these studies observed people over time, rather than assigning them specific diets, and so could not prove that ultra processed foods actually cause people to eat more or gain weight. For example, it might be the case that people who eat ultra processed foods develop health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.
Although the new study was small, “results from this tightly controlled experiment showed a clear and consistent difference between the two diets,” study lead author Kevin Hall, a senior investigator at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said in a statement.