A new study tested impacts of ultra-processed foods and the results were meaty. The research carried out by US National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that the food lead people to eat more and put on weight. A group of twenty people were taken as subjects to volunteer for the study. They lived in a laboratory for a month and for a fortnight they were given either unprocessed or ultra-processed meals, after which their diets were switched for the second half of the study. During this time, the volunteers could eat whatever they desired as researchers closely observed their meals.
It was revealed that during the first stage of the study, the volunteers put on about 2lb (1kg) and ate over 508 calories in a day through ultra-processed dietary forms. It was also brought to attention that ultra-processed foods affected people’s hunger hormones, compelling them to consume more food. The team also observed that the levels of the hunger hormone-ghrelin became less on the unprocessed diet.
In a statement by Dr Kevin Hall from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of NIH, he recorded, “When people were consuming the unprocessed diet, one of the appetite-suppression hormones (called PYY) that has been shown in other studies to be related to restraining people’s appetite actually went up despite the fact that they’re now eating less calories.”
However, the volunteers alleged that both meals were equally tasty. The team can hence not blame a preference for ultra-processed foods. It was also observed that the nutritional content of both the diets contained equal amounts of sugar, fasts, fibers and other carbohydrates. The researchers however concentrated more on the effect of industrially processed foods on hormones that alter desire to eat.
Fellow researchers from universities abroad said that the research conducted by NIH was well designed, the outcomes of which were ‘interesting, although perhaps not surprising.’ Since the study was limited to a few number of people and for a short time, the findings cannot be applied broadly.
Some people on the diet ate an extra 1,500 calories on the ultra-processed diet, while others ate roughly the same. Dr Gunter Kuhnle from University of Reading said in a statement, “It seems that participants found ultra-processed food more palatable, ate more quickly and consequently more – possibly because it took longer for them to feel full.” He added, “A very interesting outcome of the study is the cost-per-energy: the ultra-processed diet was considerably cheaper than the unprocessed control diet, and this is likely to have implications from a public health point of view.”