A Solution to Increased Consumption of UltraProcessed Foods in The EU and the Risk of Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

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Alabi, Ifedayo
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The objective of this research was to evaluate the association between the rise in consumption of ultra-processed foods and drinks, as defined by the NOVA classification system, and the associated risk in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cardiovascular disease(CD) in the European Union (EU). The findings from the research were then used to provide a more effective solution to reducing the risk and rate of onset of these diseases by 2030, in line with current EU strategy. The dietary habits of human beings have evolved over the past 2.5 million years, from the paleolithic hunter gatherer era to the modern-day western diets ubiquitous in highly processed foods, propelled by the industrial revolution in the 19th century. We now see an unbalanced nutritional profile, high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, sugars, salt, and low in fibre. Simultaneously, since the industrial revolution, there has been a global rise in non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Six highly reputable studies, investigating the relationship between consumption of ultra-processed foods and the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases were analysed across 9 EU countries, including a total of 896,225 participants. All studies showed significant correlation between increased consumption of ultra-processed foods and increased risk of development of obesity, T2D and CD, with significant increase in associated risk with an increment of 10% increase in ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are ingrained in society, and this is unlikely to change. A lot of functional and clean label foods are ultraprocessed pre-packaged foods. Therefore, a more impactful solution on reducing the risk and rate of onset of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases needs to come from the food industry. Food manufacturers must implement smart reformulations that considers the whole impact of a food formulation as opposed to partially focusing on specific ingredients that drive health and wellness claims to promote their foods. True to health formulations considers the nutritional composition, food matrix, processing conditions, functional ingredientmapping and the incorporation of more functional foods into more food products. All these factors can feed into the determination and use of specific deterrent marketing claims. The use of deterrent marketing will ensure that food manufacturers carry out thorough research and development into suitable ingredient substitutions and processing techniques that do not propagate further disease risk, while also ensuring consumers receive more balanced information, and are more aware of the true impact of foods, compelling more accurate food choices, reducing the risk and rate of onset of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases by 2030.

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