Eating ultraprocessed foods may increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Ultraprocessed foods — including chips, instant noodles, breakfast cereals, chicken nuggets and other industrially processed ready-to-eat or microwaveable fare — are designed for tastiness and long shelf-life. They typically contain emulsifiers, thickening agents, food coloring and other additives of no nutritive value. In previous studies, they have been linked to an increased risk for cancer, depression and cardiovascular disease.
A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine included 104,707 men and women, average age 43 and generally healthy at the start. All filled out three well-validated 24-hour food questionnaires. Over all, more than 17 percent of their food by weight was ultraprocessed.
There were 821 cases of Type 2 diabetes over an average six years of follow-up. After controlling for age, sex, family history of diabetes, and many dietary and behavioral factors, researchers found that for each absolute increase of 10 percent in the weight of ultraprocessed food in the diet, the risk for diabetes increased by 13 percent. For every 100-gram (3.5-ounce) increase in the weight of ultraprocessed food consumed, the risk for diabetes increased by 5 percent.
“This is only one study that doesn’t prove causality,” said the senior author, Mathilde Touvier, a researcher at Inserm, the French public health institute. “But the accumulation of evidence suggests the precautionary principle: Try to avoid ultraprocessed food as much as possible.”