Food which has undergone excessive processing, like chicken nuggets, ice cream and breakfast cereals, is linked to deaths at a young age and lack of healthy foods.
Researchers in France and Spain have stated that there is increased consumption of this type of food, but studies have not led to a definite confirmation. Experts are calling for more caution, and are insisting on more research into this issue.
In the first study by the University of Navarre in Spain, carried out on close to 20,000 participants, researchers checked the type of food consumed over a ten-year span, and analysed their diet every two years. Of those who took part in this study, 335 persons died.
For every ten deaths among those who had consumed excessively processed foods, there were 16 deaths of persons who had eaten more than four portions every day of this type of food.
In the second study by the University of Paris, carried out on more than 105,000 persons over a five-year span, their diet was analysed twice a year. The study showed that those who consumed excessively processed foods exhibited the worst repercussions on their health, such as heart problems.
The rate of heart disease was of 277 persons for every 100,000 per year among those consuming excessively processed food, when compared to 242 per 100,000 among those consuming lesser amounts of this type of food.
Dr Mathilde Touvier from Paris University told the BBC that the evidence is increasing with more studies being carried out to investigate risks from consumption of processed foods, and their effects on human health.
Professor Bes-Rastrollo from Navarre University told the BBC that excessively processed foods are bad for one’s health, with studies showing a link between this type of food and its effect on human health. More concrete trials have to be carried out, however, for conclusions about whether one leads to the other.
Besides the risk of obesity, consumers of processed food have a tendency for other habits, like smoking.
Experts accordingly recommend a more Mediterranean diet, consisting of plenty of unprocessed foods like fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and brown wheat products.
This type of food, together with exercise, is beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease and circulation problems.