Why ultra-processed foods are terrible for health?

Sep, 2020 - by CMI

Why ultra-processed foods are terrible for health?

It’s been at least 1.8 million years since our ancestors are processing food. Advent of different food techniques such as drying, grinding, roasting, and other techniques have made food more tasty, durable, and nutritious. This has supported our forefather to colonize various habitats and form civilizations and settlements. Today most of the traditional ingredients that is used in cooking is processed in some way. For instance, grains, cheeses, dried fish and fermented vegetables are processed food but processing itself is not an issue. Recently, different types of food processing technique has emerged which are more extensive and utilizes new physical processes and chemicals. This technique is known as ultra-processing, and the resulting products ultra-processed meals.

Ultra-processed foods products are added with low-cost ingredients such as starches and sugars along with cosmetic additives like flavors, colors, and emulsifiers. For example, confectionery, mass-produced bread, sweetened dairy products, and frozen desserts are some of the ultra-processed food products and unfortunately, these food products have adverse effects on our health. Moreover, people are eating more of them nowadays typically because of strong marketing and lobbying by “Big Food”.

Recent studies reveal that the presence of more ultra-processed foods in the diet leads to various lifestyle disorders such as obesity, cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and frailty. This is caused because these food have high sugar content, trans-fats, and salts. Moreover, ultra-processed foods also poses threat to the environment because food packaging creates more plastic waste that affects aquatic species.

Studies show that the sale of ultra-processed meals is booming day by day on every single place as people are consuming more and more of them. The sales are high especially across developed countries such as Australia, the United States, and Canada. But it is increasing rapidly across middle-income international places like South Africa, China, and Brazil, which are highly populated.

Increasing income, rapid urbanization, and growing working population looking for convenience food are few factors fueling the sale of these food. Also, “Big Food” corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and McDonald’s are playing a crucial role in driving the consumption of ultra-processed. Moreover, these corporations are heavily investing in their overseas facility. For example, at present Coca-Cola System includes 900 bottling plants worldwide, delivering 2 billion servings every day.

The Big Food companies are focusing more on their advertising as they are globalizing. For example, they are using new technologies such as gaming to target children and are also targeting their advertising at individuals by collecting large amounts of personal information online. In addition to this expansion of supermarkets across developing regions that offer food at low prices are further creating demand for ultra-processed food. If there are no supermarkets available in the region then other distribution strategies are used. For instance, Nestlé is adopting “door-to-door” salesforce technique to reach poor households in Brazil’s urban slums area.

Increasing consumption of this food also reveals Big Food’s political power to undermine public health regulations and this is composed of making political donations, lobbying policymakers, funding favorable research, and partnerships with community organizations.