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Diets High In Ultra-Processed Foods May Lead To Overeating And Weight Gain


Ultra-processed foods tend to contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, and fat, and lack fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A new study suggests that a diet high in ultra-processed foods leads to overeating and weight gain.





The researchers recruited 20 healthy adult volunteers for their study, 10 male and 10 female. The participants spent one month at the NIH Clinical Center. For two weeks they consumed a diet consisting of meals made up of ultra-processed foods. For the other two weeks they consumed a diet consisting of meals made up of minimally processed foods. Both diets had the same amount of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates. Participants were allowed to eat as much or as little as they wanted.





The researchers found that the participants ate 500 calories more per day on average when on the ultra-processed diet, compared to the minimally processed diet. The increased calories came from eating greater quantities of carbohydrates and fat. While on the ultra-processed diet the participants also ate faster and gained weight, an average of 2 pounds. In comparison, they lost an average of two pounds when on the minimally processed diet.





Participants also had significantly higher 24-hour respiratory quotient while eating the ultra-processed diet. This indicates that fat oxidation was decreased compared to when eating the minimally processed diet. In addition, insulin secretion and average daily glucose levels tended to be slightly higher when consuming the ultra-processed diet.





The study was conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health. It was published online ahead of print on May 16, 2019 in the journalCell Metabolism.


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