According to two new studies, consuming ultra-processed foods (UPFs), like soft drinks, cereals, ready-made meals, and fast food, significantly increases the risk of heart-related illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke.
The results of both studies were presented at the annual convening of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam. In his remarks, Henry Dimbleby, the former food tsar for the UK, said that the results should serve as a "wake-up call" for Brits and a lack of action will have significant impacts on the National Health Service (NHS) in the future.
Ultra-processed foods are growing in consumption worldwide. When it comes to heart disease, diet is the most important variable and serves as the best means of prevention. In order to improve the rates of cardiovascular disease a sweeping overhaul needs to take place. Measures such as increased taxation on overly processed foods and beverages and educating the public on dietary guidelines could reduce rates for the foreseeable future.
Contrary to general belief, poor dietary choices can't be chalked up to lazy consumers who eat too much and exercise too little. Consumers are preyed upon by the very companies that produce unhealthy and overprocessed foods. Humans are predisposed to enjoy foods high in fat and sugar, and junk food companies use this knowledge in their manufacturing and marketing. To defeat these giants, we need to understand why healthy foods cost more and develop policies that combat socioeconomic challenges that force people to eat cheaper and unhealthy food.