New research suggests that these foods also raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Research has linked ultra-processed foods with conditions such as cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, as well as with a higher risk of premature mortality.
Sugary drinks, packaged snacks, and ready-made meals all count as ultra-processed foods — that is, foods that contain a higher number of additives and last longer because of the added preservatives.
These foods are prevalent in Western diets, and the Western world has also seen a surge in the incidence of diabetes in recent decades. Are ultra-processed foods and type 2 diabetes linked? And if so, how?
Bernard Srour, Ph.D., of the Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center–University of Paris in France, and his team of researchers set out to answer this question.
They did so by examining the dietary habits of more than 100,000 people.
The researchers did not single out one type of food or ingredient but instead looked at the cumulative effect of ultra-processed foods on type 2 diabetes risk.
The authors recommend caution in interpreting the associations that they found. Most of the additives in ultra-processed foods “are likely to be neutral for long-term health, and some may even be beneficial,” they write, giving antioxidants as an example.