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      Household availability of ultra-processed foods and obesity in nineteen European countries

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          Abstract

          Objective

          To assess household availability of NOVA food groups in nineteen European countries and to analyse the association between availability of ultra-processed foods and prevalence of obesity.

          Design

          Ecological, cross-sectional study.

          Setting

          Europe.

          Subjects

          Estimates of ultra-processed foods calculated from national household budget surveys conducted between 1991 and 2008. Estimates of obesity prevalence obtained from national surveys undertaken near the budget survey time.

          Results

          Across the nineteen countries, median average household availability amounted to 33·9 % of total purchased dietary energy for unprocessed or minimally processed foods, 20·3 % for processed culinary ingredients, 19·6 % for processed foods and 26·4 % for ultra-processed foods. The average household availability of ultra-processed foods ranged from 10·2 % in Portugal and 13·4 % in Italy to 46·2 % in Germany and 50·4 % in the UK. A significant positive association was found between national household availability of ultra-processed foods and national prevalence of obesity among adults. After adjustment for national income, prevalence of physical inactivity, prevalence of smoking, measured or self-reported prevalence of obesity, and time lag between estimates on household food availability and obesity, each percentage point increase in the household availability of ultra-processed foods resulted in an increase of 0·25 percentage points in obesity prevalence.

          Conclusions

          The study contributes to a growing literature showing that the consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases. Its findings reinforce the need for public policies and actions that promote consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and make ultra-processed foods less available and affordable.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Is Open Access

          Ultra-Processed Food Products and Obesity in Brazilian Households (2008–2009)

          Background Production and consumption of industrially processed food and drink products have risen in parallel with the global increase in overweight and obesity and related chronic non-communicable diseases. The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship between household availability of processed and ultra-processed products and the prevalence of excess weight (overweight plus obesity) and obesity in Brazil. Methods The study was based on data from the 2008–2009 Household Budget Survey involving a probabilistic sample of 55,970 Brazilian households. The units of study were household aggregates (strata), geographically and socioeconomically homogeneous. Multiple linear regression models were used to assess the relationship between the availability of processed and ultra-processed products and the average of Body Mass Index (BMI) and the percentage of individuals with excess weight and obesity in the strata, controlling for potential confounders (socio-demographic characteristics, percentage of expenditure on eating out of home, and dietary energy other than that provided by processed and ultra-processed products). Predictive values for prevalence of excess weight and obesity were estimated according to quartiles of the household availability of dietary energy from processed and ultra-processed products. Results The mean contribution of processed and ultra-processed products to total dietary energy availability ranged from 15.4% (lower quartile) to 39.4% (upper quartile). Adjusted linear regression coefficients indicated that household availability of ultra-processed products was positively associated with both the average BMI and the prevalence of excess weight and obesity, whereas processed products were not associated with these outcomes. In addition, people in the upper quartile of household consumption of ultra-processed products, compared with those in the lower quartile, were 37% more likely to be obese. Conclusion Greater household availability of ultra-processed food products in Brazil is positively and independently associated with higher prevalence of excess weight and obesity in all age groups in this cross-sectional study.
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            Consumption of ultra-processed food products and its effects on children's lipid profiles: a longitudinal study.

            Cardiovascular disease development is related to known risk factors (such as diet and blood lipids) that begin in childhood. Among dietary factors, the consumption of ultra-processing products has received attention. This study investigated whether children's consumption of processed and ultra-processing products at preschool age predicted an increase in lipid concentrations from preschool to school age.
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              Consumption of ultra-processed foods predicts diet quality in Canada.

              This study describes food consumption patterns in Canada according to the types of food processing using the Nova classification and investigates the association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and the nutrient profile of the diet. Dietary intakes of 33,694 individuals from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey aged 2 years and above were analyzed. Food and drinks were classified using Nova into unprocessed or minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods and ultra-processed foods. Average consumption (total daily energy intake) and relative consumption (% of total energy intake) provided by each of the food groups were calculated. Consumption of ultra-processed foods according to sex, age, education, residential location and relative family revenue was assessed. Mean nutrient content of ultra-processed foods and non-ultra-processed foods were compared, and the average nutrient content of the overall diet across quintiles of dietary share of ultra-processed foods was measured. In 2004, 48% of calories consumed by Canadians came from ultra-processed foods. Consumption of such foods was high amongst all socioeconomic groups, and particularly in children and adolescents. As a group, ultra-processed foods were grossly nutritionally inferior to non-ultra-processed foods. After adjusting for covariates, a significant and positive relationship was found between the dietary share of ultra-processed foods and the content in carbohydrates, free sugars, total and saturated fats and energy density, while an inverse relationship was observed with the dietary content in protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, D, B6 and B12, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, as well as zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Lowering the dietary share of ultra-processed foods and raising consumption of hand-made meals from unprocessed or minimally processed foods would substantially improve the diet quality of Canadian.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Public Health Nutrition
                Public Health Nutr.
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                1368-9800
                1475-2727
                January 2018
                July 17 2017
                January 2018
                : 21
                : 1
                : 18-26
                Article
                10.1017/S1368980017001379
                28714422
                e4a5d97e-f89f-4454-a30b-e6c85f7585dc
                © 2018

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