Eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods is accompanied by greater calorie consumption and weight gain, in comparison with a diet of unprocessed foods, based on a small, randomized trial published in Cell Metabolism.
Twenty adults were randomized to follow either a diet high in ultra-processed foods or one made up of unprocessed food. They were provided three meals and snacks that amounted to double the calories needed to maintain their weight and could eat as much or as little as they wanted. Diets were matched in terms of calories and macronutrients, but differed in added sugar, insoluble fiber, and saturated fat. After 2 weeks, participants switched diets.
While eating the ultra-processed diet, participants consumed 508 more calories per day than with the unprocessed diet. They also ate more carbohydrates and fats. Participants gained 0.9 kg during the ultra-processed food phase and lost the same amount during the unprocessed phase.
The authors conclude: “Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment. Such a recommendation could potentially be embraced across a wide variety of healthy dietary approaches including low-carb, low-fat, plant-based, or animal-based diets.”
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Source: NEJM Journal Watch