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Millions Suffer as Junk Food Industry Rakes in Profit

Increased consumption of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) was associated with more than 10% of all-cause premature, preventable deaths in Brazil in 2019. That is the finding of a new peer-reviewed study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The findings are significant not only for Brazil but also for high income countries such as the U S, Canada, the UK, and Australia, where UPFs account for more than half of total calorific intake.

Brazilians consume far less of these products than countries with high incomes. This means the estimated impact would be even higher in richer nations.

UPFs are ready-to-eat-or-heat industrial formulations made with ingredients extracted from foods or synthesised in laboratories. These have gradually been replacing traditional foods and meals made from fresh and minimally processed ingredients in many countries.

The study found that approximately 57,000 deaths in one year could be attributed to the consumption of UPFs – 10.5% of all premature deaths and 21.8% of all deaths from preventable noncommunicable diseases in adults aged 30 to 69.