Startling Study Reveals Majority Of U.S. Packaged Food Is Ultra-Processed


EVANSTON, Ill. — It’s no secret that many Americans struggle to maintain a healthy weight, but attempting to pin down just one absolute cause for rising U.S. obesity rates has proven difficult. For example, some people say they can’t find the time to regularly exercise, while others may just have an affinity for fast food. Now, a new study out of Northwestern University has identified another contributing factor: the overwhelming majority of packaged foods available in the U.S. in 2018 were ultra-processed and unhealthy.

More so than any other Western country, Americans are being bombarded with food products that are high in sugar, saturated fat, salt, and calories. More specifically, after analyzing over 200,000 U.S. packaged food products including bread, snacks, salad dressings, sugary sweets, and sugary drinks researchers found that a whopping 71% were classified as ultra-processed. Furthermore, 86% of the packaged foods sold by the 25 top manufacturers were found to be ultra-processed.

For reference, the term “ultra-processed” was defined as foods that “are industrial formulations made entirely or mostly from substances extracted from foods (oils, fats, sugar, starch and proteins).” These foods are usually created in laboratories and derived from hydrogenated fats and modified starch.

The research team at Northwestern University say they engaged in this study to shine a light on the nutritional qualities of food being marketed and sold to the American publicby manufacturers, as well as to provide consumers and policymakers with accurate information on U.S. packaged food goods.

“To say that our food supply is highly processed won’t shock anyone, but it’s important that we hold food and beverage manufacturers accountable by continually documenting how they’re doing in terms of providing healthy foods for consumers,” comments lead author Abigail Baldridge in a release. “And the verdict is they can and should be doing a whole lot better.”


According to the study, bread products seemed to be especially unhealthy. “Bread and bakery products” was the only studied food category that ranked high in all four nutrient categories; calories, saturated fat, sodium, and total sugars.

Interestingly, while U.S. packaged foods are similar in overall health qualities to other Western countries such as Australia, American food goods were found to be significantly more processed and contain larger amounts of sugar and sodium, on average. For example, U.S. bread products contain 12% higher sodium levels than U.K. bread, however it is worth noting that the U.K. has made a concentrated effort to lower sodium levels in their packaged foods.

There isn’t enough readily available information on what is inside the food Americans are eating, researchers assert. Baldridge and her team believe the first step to making the food supply healthier is properly assessing it and making sure that information is available to consumers and policymakers.

“Food and beverage products continuously evolve, and reports like these highlight opportunities to make critical changes within specific manufacturers or product categories to reduce saturated fat, salt and sugars,” Baldridge comments.

Researchers are confident that their study is an accurate representation of the U.S. packaged food market as a whole; the data analyzed represented more than 80% of all food and beverage products sold in the U.S. over the past three years. That being said, it is difficult to paint an accurate picture of the industry because it is constantly changing, with about 20% of packaged foods in the United States being replaced or modified each year.

“We need to better capture real-time information of our constantly changing food supply if we’re going to track and improve its healthfulness,” says study co-author Dr. Mark Huffman.

The study is published in the scientific journal Nutrients.

'Startling Study Reveals Majority Of U.S. Packaged Food Is Ultra-Processed' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

©Copyright One Radio Network 2019 • All rights reserved. | Site built by RedLotus Austin
The information on this website and talk shows is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors, producers of One Radio Network, Patrick Timpone, their guests or web masters take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained on this website in written or audio form, live or podcasts. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider and take total responsibility for his or her actions at all times. Patrick Joseph of the family of Timpone, a man...All rights reserved, without recourse.