Ultraprocessed food and pregnancy
George F Winter discusses the global evidence of the effects of ultraprocessed foods on pregnancy and early development
Ultraprocessed foods have been defined as ‘industrial formulations of substances derived from foods, which typically contain cosmetic additives…and little, if any, whole foods’ (Rauber et al, 2021). Rauber et al's (2021) prospective cohort study of 22 659 British adults reported that ultraprocessed food-enriched diets were associated with a 79% and 30% increase in the risk of obesity and abdominal obesity, respectively. In a Spanish study of almost 20 000 participants, Rico-Campà et al (2019) reported that more than four daily servings of ultraprocessed food ‘was independently associated with a 62% relatively increased hazard for all-cause mortality’.
For the dietary relevance of ultraprocessed food in the UK context, Monteiro et al (2017a) not only found that the average household availability of ultraprocessed foods ranged from 10.2% in Portugal and 13.4% in Italy, to 50.4% in the UK, but also that ‘a significant positive association was found between national household availability of ultraprocessed foods and national prevalence of obesity among adults’.
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