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Shopping for Highly Processed Foods

Consuming highly processed foods contributes to obesity.

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You Are What You Eat

It’s well known that obesity is a major problem affecting tens of millions of people around the world. But what’s causing such rampant obesity is less clear. Some blame our appetite for sugary sodas and other high‑calorie, low‑nutrition drinks. Others target the ubiquity of fast food.

Whatever the specific calculus, it seems safe to assume that what we eat, and how much we eat, have something to do with obesity. And a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may have shed light on one part of the puzzle.

The study tracked grocery store purchases from 2000 to 2012 and found that more than 60 percent of the calories Americans purchase comes in the form of highly processed foods.

Food For Thought

Now, this may not seem particularly shocking. After all, supermarket shelves are well stocked with highly processed foods.

But until the UNC study, it wasn’t clear how much highly processed food people purchased. It also wasn’t exactly clear whether or not those foods are necessarily less nutritious than other foods. Turns out they are.

Now, the point of the study is not that all packaged and processed foods are bad. Many boxed cereals contain nutritious whole grains, and canned fruits and vegetables can pack plenty of nutrients.

But the dominance of highly processed foods, such as high‑calorie chips and cookies and other snacks, in the American diet is worth noting, the study claims. And the authors hope their findings will encourage food manufacturers to think carefully about the ingredients that make up highly processed foods.

Read More:

“Highly Processed Foods Dominate U.S. Grocery Purchases” (Newswise)

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