Ultra-processed foods

Foods that belong to the UPF category

Carbonated soft drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, chocolate, candies, ice-cream, commercial packaged breads and buns, margarines and other spreads, cookies, pastries, cakes, breakfast ‘cereals’, ‘cereal’ and ‘energy’ bars, ‘energy’ drinks, milk drinks, ‘fruit’ yoghurts and ‘fruit’ drinks, ‘cocoa’ drinks, ‘instant’ sauces.

Pies/pasta/pizza dishes, poultry and fish ‘nuggets’ and ‘sticks’, sausages, burgers, hot dogs and other reconstituted meat products, powdered and packaged ‘instant’ soups, noodles, desserts.

such as infant formulas, follow-on milks, other baby products, ‘health’ and ‘slimming’ products such as meal replacement shakes and powders.

Ultra-processed foods Intake

  • In recent years the global food system has undergone a profound transformation in terms of technology and food processing. 
  • The food profile of the world’s countries has changed substantially in favour of the consumption of highly processed industrial products (due to economic convenience, industrial competition, attractiveness to consumers)

Significant increase in availability and consumption of UPFs in all countries, regardless of economic level. 

Surveys across the globe assessing individual food intake, household food expenses, or supermarket sales have found that ultra-processed food products contribute to 25-60% of total daily energy intake.

Relative (%) contribution of each food group to ultra-processed food consumption in diet

Explanation

Out of 100 UPF products that are consumed in the diet, 28 of them would be sugary products (e.g., chocolate cookie), 18 would be fruit and vegetables (e.g., instant tomato sauce), 16 would be beverages etc. 

Picture from the NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort, BMJ 2019;365:l1451