Newest Updates to Health Providers on the Hazards of Ultra-Processed Foods and Proposed Solutions

Am J Med. 2024 Feb 10:S0002-9343(24)00069-X.doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2024.02.001. Online ahead of print.


Dawn Harris Sherling 1Charles H Hennekens 2Allison H Ferris 2


Author information

1Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Electronic address: dsherling@health.fau.edu.

2Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.


At present, the United States has the lowest life expectancy of all 12 large, rich countries in the world. While overweight and obesity, as well as lack of regular physical activity, are well recognized, another less well-known plausible hypothesis to explain this observation is the unprecedented consumption of ultra-processed food in the United States. Whether ultra-processed food contributes to our currently rising rates of morbidity and mortality from noncommunicable diseases requires direct testing in analytic studies designed a priori to do so. At present, ultra-processed foods are likely to play major roles in a myriad of diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, a variety of cancers, and even mental health disorders. As was the case with cigarettes, we find ourselves needing to fight a battle where the entertainment industry, the food industry, and public policy do not align with our patients' needs. This does not mean that we should not begin to engage our patients in this vital conversation. Indeed, it makes it all the more important, and timely, that we do so.

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