Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
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The Dangers of Processed Junk Foods to Your Body

About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes to buy processed food.1,2,3 What’s worse, new research shows that, astonishingly, more than half—nearly 60 percent, in fact—of the food Americans eat is ULTRA-processed.4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

Basically, half of what the average American eats in any given day are convenience foods that can be bought at your local gas station.

Moreover, those ultra-processed foods account for 90 percent of the added sugar consumption in the U.S.  Data from a nationally representative food survey was used for this study, which found that:

        On average, 57.9 percent of the calories people eat comes from ultra-processed foods
        29.6 percent of calories comes from unprocessed or minimally processed foods (such as meats, eggs, milk, and pasta)
   •     Processed but not ultra-processed foods (such as canned or preserved foods, cured meats and cheeses) account for 9.4 percent of calories
   •     2.9 percent of calories comes from “processed culinary ingredients” such as vegetable oil, table salt, and sugar
   •     Less than 1 percent of daily calories comes from vegetables

Excessive Sugar Consumption Drives Disease Statistics

The dangers of eating too much added sugar have been well-established, and have even become officially recognized. For the first time ever, the 2015-2020 U.S. dietary guidelines12 now recommend limiting your sugar intake to a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories.13

Decreasing sugar consumption is indeed at the top of the list if you’re overweight, insulin resistant, or struggle with any chronic disease. Research14 has shown that as much as 40 percent of American healthcare expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar.

More than $1 trillion each year is spent on treating sugar and junk food-related diseases, which runs the gamut from obesity and diabetes, to heart disease and cancer.15

According to a report16 on the global cancer burden, published in 2014, obesity is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year. A more recent British report estimates obesity may result in an additional 670,000 cancer cases in the U.K. alone over the next 20 years.

For over half a century, nutritional guidelines have focused on cutting saturated fats and cholesterol, and we now know that this was a very serious mistake.

As fats were removed from processed fare, the sugar content increased (to make the food palatable), and sugar is the real culprit of virtually all diseases previously blamed on dietary fats.

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