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NIH Study Reveals Highly Processed Food Causes Excessive Consumption



Press release

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The small-scale trial is the first study of this type controlled and randomized.

People who consume ultra-processed foods consume more calories and gain more weight than when their diet was poorly processed, according to findings from a National Institutes of Health study. The difference came even though the meals provided to volunteers in both ultra-processed and minimally processed diets contained the same number of calories and macronutrients. The results were published in Cell metabolism.

This small-scale study of 20 adult volunteers, conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes, Diseases of the Digestive System and Kidneys (NIDDK) of the NIH, is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effects of ultra foods. -transformed as defined by the NOVA classification system. . This system considers foods as "ultra-processed" if they contain ingredients that are primarily used in the manufacture of industrial foods, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents, and other ingredients. emulsifiers.

Previous observational studies of large groups of people have shown associations between diets rich in processed foods and health problems. But since none of the previous studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured their results, scientists could not say for sure if processed foods were a problem in themselves or if people ate them. had health problems for other reasons, such as lack of access to fresh foods.

"Although we examined a small group, the results of this tightly controlled experiment showed a clear and consistent difference between the two regimens," said Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D., NIDDK principal investigator and lead author of l & # 39; study. "This is the first study to demonstrate causality: ultra-processed foods cause people to consume too many calories and gain weight."

For the study, the researchers admitted 20 healthy adult volunteers, 10 men and 10 women, to the NIH Clinical Center for a continuous month and, in random order for two weeks for each diet, provided them with compound meals. ultra-processed foods or low-processed food meals. For example, an ultra-processed breakfast may consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast consisted of oatmeal flakes with bananas, walnuts and skimmed milk.

Ultra-processed and unprocessed meals contained the same amounts of calories, sugars, fiber, fat and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

"We need to determine what aspect of ultra-processed foods has affected people's eating behavior and has led to weight gain," said Hall. "The next step is to design similar studies with an ultra-reformulated reformulated diet to see if the changes made can remove the effect of diet on calorie intake and the body weight. "

For example, slight differences in protein levels between ultra-processed and unprocessed diets in this study could potentially account for up to half of the difference in caloric intake.

"Over time, extra calories add up and this extra weight can lead to serious health problems," said Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, director of NIDDK. "Such research is an important element in understanding the role of nutrition in health and can also help. people identify foods that are both nutritious and accessible, which helps them stay healthy in the long run. "

Although the study reinforces the benefits of unprocessed foods, the researchers note that it can be difficult to limit ultra-processed foods. "We need to be aware that it takes longer and more money to prepare less processed foods," Hall said. "Telling people to eat healthier may not be effective for some people without better access to healthy foods."

Support for the study was mainly provided by the NIDDK Intramural Research Division.

About the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): The NIDDK, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and renal, urological and hematological diseases. Covering the entire spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnicities, these diseases encompass some of the most common, serious and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information on the NIDDK and its programs, see https://www.niddk.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
The NIH, the country's medical research agency, has 27 institutes and centers and is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the lead federal agency that leads and supports basic, clinical and translational medical research. She studies causes, treatments and cures for common and rare diseases. For more information on NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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Reference

KD Hall, Ayuketah A, Bernstein S, et al. Ultra-processed diets cause excessive caloric intake and excessive weight gain: A one-month randomized controlled trial in hospitalized patients dealing with ad libitum food intake. Cell metabolism. May 16, 2019.

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