Nearly 60 percent of what Americans eat is junk — ultra-processed foods loaded with sugar, salt, fat and all the other stuff we are not supposed to snack on, a new study finds.
The data pretty clearly explains why two-thirds of Americans are obese or overweight, and why rates of diabetes and heart disease are soaring, the team of Brazilian and U.S. researchers said.
“The most common ultra-processed foods in terms of energy contribution were breads, soft drinks, fruit drinks, and milk-based drinks, cakes, cookies and pies, salty snacks, frozen and shelf-stable plates, pizza and breakfast cereals,” Dr. Carlos Augusto Monteiro of the University of São Paulo and colleagues there, and at Tufts University in Boston
The researchers used information from a large national study of U.S. health that included a detailed food diary. They focused on 9,300 adults and children.
“Ultra-processed foods comprised 57.9 percent of the energy intake, and contributed 89.7 percent of the energy intake from added sugars,” the team wrote in the British Medical Journal’s online publication, BMJ Open.
More than 20 percent of calories in the ultra-processed foods came from sugar. Federal eating guidelines say people shouldn’t get any more than 10 percent of calories from sugar, and some nutritionists say it should be even less than that.
“We confirmed the excessive consumption of added sugars in the USA,” the team wrote.
“We also provide new evidence that ultra-processed foods represent more than half of all calories in the U.S. diet, and contribute nearly 90 percent of all added sugars.”
(Source: NBCNews.com article by Maggie Fox, British Medical Journal Open 2016;6:e009892 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009892)
Dr. Ernst’s Comments:
I pray this article comes as a wake-up call for you and your family! If you doubt that you’re actually eating 60% “ultra-processed junk food,” let us take a peek into the average American pantry.
Can I be honest with you? This picture was taken by a patient of mine who just left for college in 2015 and was shocked by the “food” their roommate had stocked in their shared apartment cabinets.
Would you define those items as food? Technically they fall into the same category of ultra-processed food the article above mentioned. Most people in America would consider this food. You can put it in your mouth, chew it and swallow it, and you won’t immediately die. It’s not bleach, after all!
Food: /foo͞ d/ n. any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.
I think it shocking to even see the “google definition” of food quite ambiguous. But notice the term “nutritious.” You’ve got to understand that this adjective, from a scientific definition’s perspective, does not mean the same thing as “healthy.” It means there are nutrients of some form or another, in varying degrees of concentration, that the body can use in some way or another. And if that’s the definition, then yes, any boxed or fortified food item would be just that – FOOD!
Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Perhaps that should be added to the definition of food.
Let me just give it a shot.
Food: /foo͞ d/ n. any substance with medicinal properties that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.
Now, under that definition, you would see a pantry is EMPTY and an icebox that is filled to the max with something that looks like this…
The problem here is that too many people and think, maybe:
“I wouldn’t know what to do with that.”
“There’s no way I could eat all that before it goes bad.”
It’s so inconceivable to so many that this could really be something they eat. But I want you to use your imagination. What if you made your fridge look like that and, for just one week, committed to eating all of that amazing green food. Don’t you think you would feel amazing?