select search filters
roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

expert reaction to conference abstract describing an observational study of intake of ultra processed foods and risk of death

A conference abstract presented at Nutrition 2024 looks at the link between ultra-processed food intake and risk of death. 


Prof Rosie Green,  Professor of Environment, Food and Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said:

“This study adds to the evidence on relationships between UPFs and health by following up a very large cohort over more than 20 years after measuring their diets. The authors have accounted for many potential confounders of the relationship, including the general healthiness of diets which has not always been adjusted for in other studies. They found that UPFs are associated with a slight increased risk of death. However, the diets of the participants were measured 30 years ago and so it’s difficult to say how dietary habits might have changed between then and now.

“It is interesting that this study found that the UPFs with the greatest increased risk were processed meat and soft drinks, since these are foods that we already know are associated with negative health outcomes and recommendations already say their consumption should be limited. It’s therefore unclear whether restrictions on UPFs would have an additional benefit to health, especially as some UPFs can contain healthy ingredients such as fruit, vegetables and legumes. This is especially important given that many people are now unsure whether they should switch from meat to highly processed plant-based substitutes – the evidence from this study indicates that processed meat may be one of the most unhealthy foods, but people do not tend to view ham or chicken nuggets as UPF.

“Without seeing the full text we don’t know what other UPF food groups might be associated with higher (or lower) risk of death, and we also don’t know how statistically significant these results are.”



‘Ultra-Processed Food Intake and Mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study’ is a conference abstract which was presented by Erikka Loftfield at Nutrition 2024. The work has not been peer reviewed.



Declared interests

Prof Rosie Green: I have no interests to declare.


in this section

filter RoundUps by year

search by tag