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Consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health. Evidence from Canada

  • Jean-Claude Moubarac (a1) (a2), Ana Paula Bortoletto Martins (a1), Rafael Moreira Claro (a1), Renata Bertazzi Levy (a1) (a3), Geoffrey Cannon (a4) and Carlos Augusto Monteiro (a1) (a5)...
Abstract
AbstractObjective

To investigate consumption of ultra-processed products in Canada and to assess their association with dietary quality.

Design

Application of a classification of foodstuffs based on the nature, extent and purpose of food processing to data from a national household food budget survey. Foods are classified as unprocessed/minimally processed foods (Group 1), processed culinary ingredients (Group 2) or ultra-processed products (Group 3).

Setting

All provinces and territories of Canada, 2001.

Subjects

Households (n 5643).

Results

Food purchases provided a mean per capita energy availability of 8908 (se 81) kJ/d (2129 (se 19) kcal/d). Over 61·7 % of dietary energy came from ultra-processed products (Group 3), 25·6 % from Group 1 and 12·7 % from Group 2. The overall diet exceeded WHO upper limits for fat, saturated fat, free sugars and Na density, with less fibre than recommended. It also exceeded the average energy density target of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Group 3 products taken together are more fatty, sugary, salty and energy-dense than a combination of Group 1 and Group 2 items. Only the 20 % lowest consumers of ultra-processed products (who consumed 33·2 % of energy from these products) were anywhere near reaching all nutrient goals for the prevention of obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases.

Conclusions

The 2001 Canadian diet was dominated by ultra-processed products. As a group, these products are unhealthy. The present analysis indicates that any substantial improvement of the diet would involve much lower consumption of ultra-processed products and much higher consumption of meals and dishes prepared from minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email jcmoubarac@gmail.com
Linked references
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

6. D Mozaffarian , T Hao , EB Rimm et al. (2011) Changes in diet and lifestyle and long term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med 364, 23922404.

8. CA Monteiro , RB Levy , RM Claro et al. (2010) A new classification of foods based on the extent and purpose of their processing. Cad Saude Publica 26, 20392049.

10. N Slimani , G Deharveng , DAT Southgate et al. (2009) Contribution of highly industrially processed foods to the nutrient intakes and patterns of middle-aged populations in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Eur J Clin Nutr 63, Suppl. 4, S206S225.

11. A Asfaw (2011) Does consumption of processed foods explain disparities in the body weight of individuals? The case of Guatemala. Health Econ 20, 184195.

14. DS Ludwig (2011) Technology, diet, and the burden of chronic disease. JAMA 305, 13521353.

15. CA Monteiro , FS Gomes & G Cannon (2010) The snack attack. Am J Public Health 100, 975981.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
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