For the first time, health experts who develop the federal government’s dietary guidelines for Americans are reviewing the effects of ultra-processed foods on the country’s health-a review that could potentially lead to first-of-their-kind warnings or suggested limits in the upcoming 2025 guidance, The Washington Post reports. Such warning or limits would mark the first time that Americans would be advised to consider not just the basic nutritional components of foods, but also how their foods are processed. Deirdre K. Tobias, a member of the guidelines advisory committee, told the Post that the study suggested ultra-processed foods seem to promote higher “Passive intake” of calories beyond what our bodies need and that the numerous epidemiological studies suggesting a link between eating ultra-processed foods and having a higher risk of many diseases is “As compelling as it can be.” She declined to comment directly on the upcoming guidelines, noting that the committee’s work is underway.
Good! But also:
The Post also notes that the food industry has strongly pushed backwriting directly to the committee telling them not to issue any warnings or limits. One key point of contention is that there is no exact or established definition of what counts as “ultra-processed.” Generally, it is considered to include any industrially produced food product with artificial combinations of flavors and additives, such as artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and synthetic colors. Products that easily fit the definition include things like chips, frozen dinners, boxed sweetened cereals, chicken nuggets, and boxed macaroni and cheese.
It would seem that we’re best off by eating mostly unprocessed plants. Let’s hope that becomes a focus!