Researchers in France and Spain concluded that ultra-processed foods - such as chicken nuggets, ice cream and breakfast cereals - have been linked to early death and poor health.
They expressed caution but called for further investigation. If a product contains more than five ingredients, it is probably ultra-processed, says Prof Maira Bes-Rastrollo, of the University of Navarra. The list is large, including also processed meat such as sausages and hamburgers, instant soups, cake, chocolate, mass-produced bread, pizza and more. The studies have spotted a pattern between highly processed food and poor health. The rapid increase of ultra-processed foods over less processed foods, "may drive a substantial burden of cardiovascular diseases in the next decades," said Dr Mathilde Touvier, of the University of Paris.
However there's no guarantee everything relevant was covered in the studies, says Kevin McConway, a professor of statistics at The Open University. Some observations about those foods are relevant. They contain less nutrients and fibers but are stuffed with aditives. People eat more because they're easy to eat. They are unfortunately preferred if compared with fruits and vegetables. A Mediterranean-style is better, the researchers say.