The topic of ultra-processed foods has entered the public debate this year, after celebrities and others in the public eye have raised their concerns about how and why UPFs could be responsible for health harms.
But what does the evidence say? We’ve gathered a panel of expert scientists to discuss what we do and don’t know from scientific evidence on this topic and to answer your questions.
Journalists were invited to dial into this briefing to ask their questions and hear the panel discuss aspects like:
– Is the term ‘ultra-processed foods’ recognised, used and considered useful among the nutrition and food science expert research community?
– What is the state of the evidence that UPFs cause, or are associated with, health harms?
– Is there evidence that it is something about the processing – rather than the fat, salt and sugar content of many of these foods – that is responsible for associations with health harms?
– Is it as simple as processed = unhealthy; unprocessed = healthy?
– Is it as simple as ‘any ingredient in my kitchen at home = good, any ingredient not in my kitchen at home = bad’
Prof Janet Cade, Head of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group, University of Leeds
Prof Pete Wilde, Group Leader, Food structure, colloids and digestion, Quadram Institute
Prof Ciaran Forde, Professor and Chair in Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour, Wageningen University
Prof Ian Young, Professor of Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast; and Chair of SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition)
Prof Robin May, Chief Scientific Adviser, FSA (Food Standards Agency)