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Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain

Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain

Researchers investigated whether ultra-processed foods affect energy intake in 20 weight-stable adults. Subjects were admitted to the NIH Clinical Center and randomized to receive either ultra-processed or unprocessed diets for 2 weeks immediately followed by the alternate diet for 2 weeks. Meals were designed to be matched for presented calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber. Subjects were instructed to eat what they desired. Caloric intake was greater during the ultra-processed diet with increased consumption of carbohydrates and fat but not protein. Weight changes were highly correlated with calorie intake with participants gaining during the ultra-processed diet and losing during the unprocessed diet. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.

Highlights
20 inpatient adults received ultra-processed and unprocessed diets for 14 days each
Diets were matched for presented calories, sugar, fat, fiber, and macronutrients
Ad libitum intake was ∼500 kcal/day more on the ultra-processed versus unprocessed diet
Body weight changes were highly correlated with diet differences in energy intake

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