Many reports in the medical literature etc … have shown that ultra processed food is higher in calories and causes more weight gain. (1,2) But what is ultra processed food?

The definition is something like this: “Ultra-processed foods, as defined by the NOVA food classification system, are industrial formulations of ingredients that undergo a series of physical, chemical and biological processes. They usually do not have healthy healthy food ingredients and include various additives. Ultra-processed foods tend to be denser in energy and poorer in nutrition (ie, high in free sugar, saturated salt and fat, but low in protein, dietary fiber and micronutrients). ) compared to less elaborate alternatives and be cheap, tasty, durable, convenient and attractive. “(3) Also known as bad.

I think they are the opposite of that other buzz word “natural foods”. But if you have ever read how bees make honey you will have to say that honey is ultra processed. Still still a natural food though I think.

So, as ultra-processed foods represent 65.4% and 66.2% of daily calorie intake respectively among school-age children in the UK and US (2) they have been widely condemned as a necessity due to the epidemic of overweight.

Ultra food processing is a lot like cooking it. It turns out that cooking was invented one or 2 million years ago and is widely valued for allowing people to grow large brains. One proof of this is that humans created smaller jaws and teeth at the same time in their evolution that they grew larger brains. A big brain is a good thing, but it is very hungry and costs a lot of calories to maintain. Cooking makes food much easier to digest and get calories – giving cooked food something like 25 to 50% more caloric value compared to raw food. So if you really want to lose weight do not eat any food cooked like chimpanzees do. But you may not survive.

Cheetos should be an example of ultra processed food and I really like Cheetos.

1. Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, et al. Ultra-processed diets cause excessive calorie intake and weight gain: a randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake. Cellular metabolism. 2019; 30 (1): 67-77.e3. doi: 10.1016 / j.cmet.2019.05.008

2. Chang K. et al. Association between Childhood Consumption of Ultra Processed Foods and Obesity Trajectories in Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Cohabiting Children. JAMA Pediatr. 2021; : e211573 doi: 10.1001 / jamapediatrics.2021.1573. June 14, 2021

3. Monteiro CA, Cannon G, Levy RB, etc. Ultra processed foods: what they are and how to identify them. Public Health Nutr. 2019; 22 (5): 936-941. doi: 10.1017 / S1368980018003762



The opinion of this writer is theirs and not the opinion of this newspaper

John DiTraglia MD is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. It can be accessed via or phone-354-6605.