Ultra-processed foods (UPFs), ready-to-eat-or-heat industrial formulations made with ingredients extracted from foods or synthesized in laboratories, may make meal prep easier, but this convenience comes at a cost.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with more than 10% of all-cause premature, preventable deaths in Brazil in 2019. While Brazilians consume far less of these products than countries with high incomes, the US numbers are likely much higher.

A September 2022 study found a significant association between ultra-processed food and colorectal cancer risk among men. Another found that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with around 184,000 global adult deaths each year.

Ultra-processed foods include pre-packaged soups and sauces, frozen pizza, hot dogs, sausages, sodas, ice cream and store-bought baked goods.

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