Over half of the American diet is mega-processed junk food

Over half of the American diet is mega-processed junk food

Over half of the American diet is mega-processed junk food, according to a new review of data.

Highly processed and sugary foods still dominate United States markets, as they make up 60 percent of the calories that Americans buy. These highly processed foods usually have more sugar, fat, and sodium than foods that are less processed.

About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes to buy processed food,” says Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading health expert and physician. “Basically, half of what the average American eats in any given day are convenience foods that can be bought at your local gas station.”

These mega-processed junk foods also account for 90 percent of the added sugar consumption in the United States. The study also found the following:

  1. On average, 57.9 percent of the calories people eat comes from ultra-processed foods
  2. 6 percent of calories comes from unprocessed or minimally processed foods (such as meats, eggs, milk, and pasta)
  3. Processed but not ultra-processed foods (such as canned or preserved foods, cured meats and cheeses) account for 9.4 percent of calories
  4. 9 percent of calories comes from “processed culinary ingredients” such as vegetable oil, table salt, and sugar
  5. Less than 1 percent of daily calories comes from vegetables

As stated in the study abstract:

Ultra-processed foods comprised 57.9% of energy intake, and contributed 89.7% of the energy intake from added sugars. The content of added sugars in ultra-processed foods (21.1% of calories) was eightfold higher than in processed foods (2.4%) and fivefold higher than in unprocessed or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients grouped together (3.7%). Both in unadjusted and adjusted models, each increase of 5 percentage points in proportional energy intake from ultra-processed foods increased the proportional energy intake from added sugars by 1 percentage point. Consumption of added sugars increased linearly across quintiles of ultra-processed food consumption: from 7.5% of total energy in the lowest quintile to 19.5% in the highest. A total of 82.1% of Americans in the highest quintile exceeded the recommended limit of 10% energy from added sugars, compared with 26.4% in the lowest.

The researchers believe that lowering mega-processed junk food is the right move.

Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the USA,” the researchers wrote.

The study showing that over half of the American diet is mega-processed junk food was published in the journal BMJ Open.

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1. “The Dangers of Processed Junk Foods to Your Body.” Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2016.
2. “Ultra-processed Foods and Added Sugars in the US Diet: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Cross-sectional Study.” BMJ Open. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2016.
3. “More Than Half of What Americans Eat Is ‘Ultra-Processed’The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2016.

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