The over-processed foods that are pretty cost-effective and easy-to-prepare can make you obese, according to a new study.
The study published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism found that people who rely more on ultra-processed foods tend to eat more calories and gained more pounds than people who ate minimally processed foods.
The ultra-processed foods are the foods that contain industrial ingredients such as “hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers.”
The study looked at 20 healthy adults who stayed at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and were provided meals to them.
There were two versions of meals, which had the same amounts of calories, carbs, fat, sugars, and fiber. For instance, the processed breakfast consisted of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed of bananas, walnuts and skim milk. The volunteers also exercised the same amount each day.
With the ultra-processed diet, the participants ate much faster while consuming around 500 calories a day that those who were on the unprocessed diet. This increase in calories was because of higher quantities of carbs and fat, but not of protein. Ultimately, they gained weight, which ranged from 0.9 kg to 2 lbs. And those who were on the unprocessed diet lost an equal amount of weight.
The researchers concluded that ultra-processed foods made people eat more calories and gain more weight. Also, they found that it takes less time to prepare over-processed foods.
Ultra-processed foods are ready-to-eat meals and people have been eating more of them for the past several decades. One recent study found that in the U.S., 61 percent of adults eat ultra-processed foods; in Canada, it is 62 percent; while in the UK, it is 63 percent.
The investigators also found that industry-engineered foods could lead to obesity, hypertension, and even cancer.
Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University Nurgul Fitzgerald said, “We are living in a fast world, and people are looking for convenient solutions.” Fitzgerald has recommended checking the labels of these so-called ultra-processed foods. She said, “Look at the ingredients list. Do you understand all those ingredients that go into your foods? Buy only those products with the least number of ingredients and with ingredients you understand.”