A study conducted by King’s College London, highlighted in BBC’s Panorama, indicates potential health risks associated with the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs). The experiment, performed on identical twins, found that the twin consuming UPFs experienced weight gain and worse health markers compared to her twin who consumed raw or low-processed foods.
- Ultra-processed foods (UPFs), which constitute about half of the food consumed in the UK, are often loaded with artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and preservatives, and are associated with a rise in diabetes and cancer rates.
- An observational study by Imperial College’s School of Public Health, involving 200,000 UK adults, found that high consumption of UPFs might be linked to an increased risk of developing overall cancer, specifically ovarian and brain cancers.
- Emulsifiers, which are used extensively in UPFs to improve appearance and extend shelf life, are under scrutiny as emerging research suggests a significant association between their intake and an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Controversies around the safety of additives like aspartame have resurfaced with the World Health Organization (WHO) recently expressing concerns about the long-term use of such sweeteners possibly increasing the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
- There is increasing concern about potential conflicts of interest in the regulation and study of food additives, with bodies like the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) receiving funding from large food companies and many members of the Committee on Toxicity, which advises the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK, having links to the food or chemical industries.