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Heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain, study finds
By Jane Kitchen 17 May 2019
Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet
People eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet, according to results from a National Institutes of Health study.

The difference occurred even though meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients. The results were published in Cell Metabolism.

This small-scale study of 20 adult volunteers, conducted by researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effects of ultra-processed foods as defined by the NOVA classification system. This system considers foods "ultra-processed" if they have ingredients predominantly found in industrial food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents, and emulsifiers.

Previous observational studies looking at large groups of people had shown associations between diets high in processed foods and health problems. But, because none of the past studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured the results, scientists could not say for sure whether the processed foods were a problem on their own, or whether people eating them had health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.

"Though we examined a small group, results from this tightly controlled experiment showed a clear and consistent difference between the two diets," said Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D., an NIDDK senior investigator and the study's lead author. "This is the first study to demonstrate causality – that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight."

For the study, researchers admitted 20 healthy adult volunteers, 10 male and 10 female, to the NIH Clinical Center for one continuous month and, in random order for two weeks on each diet, provided them with meals made up of ultra-processed foods or meals of minimally processed foods. For example, an ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk.

The ultra-processed and unprocessed meals had the same amount of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

On the ultra-processed diet, people ate about 500 calories more per day than they did on the unprocessed diet. They also ate faster on the ultra-processed diet and gained weight, whereas they lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet.

"We need to figure out what specific aspect of the ultra-processed foods affected people's eating behaviour and led them to gain weight," Hall said. "The next step is to design similar studies with a reformulated ultra-processed diet to see if the changes can make the diet effect on calorie intake and body weight disappear."

For example, slight differences in protein levels between the ultra-processed and unprocessed diets in this study could potentially explain as much as half the difference in calorie intake.

"Over time, extra calories add up, and that extra weight can lead to serious health conditions," said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. "Research like this is an important part of understanding the role of nutrition in health and may also help people identify foods that are both nutritious and accessible – helping people stay healthy for the long term."

While the study reinforces the benefits of unprocessed foods, researchers note that ultra-processed foods can be difficult to restrict. "We have to be mindful that it takes more time and more money to prepare less-processed foods," Hall said. "Just telling people to eat healthier may not be effective for some people without improved access to healthy foods."


News
1 to 12 of 7190 news stories
13 Dec 2019
Accor and Arora Group, have signed a deal for a new hotel and spa to be operated under the Fairmont brand. The 200-room Fairmont Windsor Park is undergoing a £140m redevelopment and will open in ... More
12 Dec 2019
The new spa at Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel has partnered with British product house ISUN, which specialises in gemstone-infused products, and Japanese skincare brand Mikimoto, the sister company to the famous cultured pearl business. The ... More
12 Dec 2019
The Glass House Retreat, a new eco-friendly health and wellness retreat, has opened in Bulphan, Essex. Located on several acres of countryside, the retreat offers an all-inclusive approach to health and wellness, working with guests ... More
11 Dec 2019
The first One&Only Spa by Chenot will open at the One&Only Desaru Coast, Malaysia, on 23 March 2020. One&Only is owned by resort developer and operator, Kerzner International. The new spa is a result of ... More
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Bvlgari Spa London, UK, has recently launched an exclusive collaboration with CBD brand KLORIS for the creation of the KLORIS Stress Melting Ritual. The 90-minute treatment uses KLORIS’ natural CBD balm, with aromatherapy oil and ... More
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Hard Rock International will add a Prague location to its portfolio, with the new property opening in 2023. Owned by EP Real Estate, the 523-room hotel will have a three-storey feature wall with a 5,900sq ... More
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Raison d’Etre has committed to raising its existing environmental standards with a new green strategy, launching in 2020. Anna-Cari Gund, Raison d’Etre’s MD, spoke to Spa Business about the new initiative: “We hope that our ... More
10 Dec 2019
Italian skincare brand, Comfort Zone, has announced two new appointments to its team. Hervé Bouvier has been appointed as global brand director and has been tasked with reinforcing the identity and the growth of Comfort ... More
09 Dec 2019
The Asia Pacific Spa and Wellness Coalition (APSWC), an umbrella organisation for spa associations and businesses across Asia, is creating a sustainability programme in response to the United Nations’ (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ... More
09 Dec 2019
Private island resort, St.Regis Maldives Vommuli, has partnered with five wellness experts to create a visiting practitioner series, which will run until April 2020. Guests at the 77-villa resort will have exclusive one-on-one sessions in ... More
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Clare Anderson, the founder of brands Lava Shells and kokolokahi, has launched a product house and holistic wellbeing brand called Sensory Retreats. The brand offers three restorative massage treatments, a range of retail products and ... More
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Anantara Spa has reformulated its signature skincare products with natural ingredients. The range was developed in collaboration with Thailand’s I Plus Q House of Aromatherapy, which specialises in providing customised wellness options. The cruelty-free collection ... More
     
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NEWS
Heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain, study finds
POSTED 17 May 2019 . BY Jane Kitchen
Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet Credit: shutterstock/182011403
People eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet, according to results from a National Institutes of Health study.

The difference occurred even though meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients. The results were published in Cell Metabolism.

This small-scale study of 20 adult volunteers, conducted by researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effects of ultra-processed foods as defined by the NOVA classification system. This system considers foods "ultra-processed" if they have ingredients predominantly found in industrial food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents, and emulsifiers.

Previous observational studies looking at large groups of people had shown associations between diets high in processed foods and health problems. But, because none of the past studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured the results, scientists could not say for sure whether the processed foods were a problem on their own, or whether people eating them had health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.

"Though we examined a small group, results from this tightly controlled experiment showed a clear and consistent difference between the two diets," said Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D., an NIDDK senior investigator and the study's lead author. "This is the first study to demonstrate causality – that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight."

For the study, researchers admitted 20 healthy adult volunteers, 10 male and 10 female, to the NIH Clinical Center for one continuous month and, in random order for two weeks on each diet, provided them with meals made up of ultra-processed foods or meals of minimally processed foods. For example, an ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk.

The ultra-processed and unprocessed meals had the same amount of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

On the ultra-processed diet, people ate about 500 calories more per day than they did on the unprocessed diet. They also ate faster on the ultra-processed diet and gained weight, whereas they lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet.

"We need to figure out what specific aspect of the ultra-processed foods affected people's eating behaviour and led them to gain weight," Hall said. "The next step is to design similar studies with a reformulated ultra-processed diet to see if the changes can make the diet effect on calorie intake and body weight disappear."

For example, slight differences in protein levels between the ultra-processed and unprocessed diets in this study could potentially explain as much as half the difference in calorie intake.

"Over time, extra calories add up, and that extra weight can lead to serious health conditions," said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. "Research like this is an important part of understanding the role of nutrition in health and may also help people identify foods that are both nutritious and accessible – helping people stay healthy for the long term."

While the study reinforces the benefits of unprocessed foods, researchers note that ultra-processed foods can be difficult to restrict. "We have to be mindful that it takes more time and more money to prepare less-processed foods," Hall said. "Just telling people to eat healthier may not be effective for some people without improved access to healthy foods."
MORE NEWS
Fairmont Windsor Park announces spa plans
Accor and Arora Group, have signed a deal for a new hotel and spa to be operated under the Fairmont brand.
Raffles Singapore Spa is offering precious gemstone treatments
The new spa at Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel has partnered with American product house ISUN, which specialises in gemstone-infused products, and Japanese skincare brand Mikimoto, the sister company to the famous cultured pearl business.
Eco-friendly wellness Glass House Retreat opens in Essex
The Glass House Retreat, a new eco-friendly health and wellness retreat, has opened in Bulphan, Essex.
One&Only set to launch first One&Only Spa by Chenot
The first One&Only Spa by Chenot will open at the One&Only Desaru Coast, Malaysia, on 23 March 2020. One&Only is owned by resort developer and operator, Kerzner International.
Hard Rock Prague to open in 2023, featuring full-service Rock Spa
Hard Rock International will add a Prague location to its portfolio, with the new property opening in 2023.
A blueprint for the industry: Raison d’Etre launches green strategy
Raison d’Etre has committed to raising its existing environmental standards with a new green strategy, launching in 2020.
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