• by: Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus Editorial Staff
  • May 24th, 2022

Industrial food not only makes us gain weight, but it increases the risk of premature death from various causes, as analyzed by some recent studies published in scientific journals. Industrial, packaged products, sweets, snacks, sodas, and ready-to-eat meals are not good for our health and compromise it to the point of making us sick. Ultra-processed foods, in fact, are rich in sugars, salt, saturated fats, additives, preservatives, and dyes, but are deficient in vitamins, minerals, and fibers.


Recent studies confirm the above-mentioned observations, like the results of a French research conducted at the Université Paris 13 and published in Jama Internal Medicine (February 2019). The investigation is part of a larger study called NutriNet-Santé. 44 thousand individuals over the age of 45 were involved and monitored for about 7 years (from 2009 to 2017). Every 6 months, the participants had to fill online surveys. Their questions focused on how much of their diet came from ultra-processed foods. The results showed that a 10% increase in processed food consumption is associated with a 10% increase in the likelihood of premature death (especially from cancer and cardiovascular disease).

Confirmation comes from a further investigation in France, again as part of the NutriNet-Santé study. The results were published in the British Medical Journal (May 2019), and they highlighted the connection between extremely processed food consumption and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. The data of 105 thousand French people (79% women and 21% men), with an average age of 43 years, were analyzed. Participants completed 6 questionnaires regarding their eating habits, while the percentages of disease incidence (cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular diseases) were measured over 10 years (from 2009 to 2018). Again, a 10% increase in extremely processed food consumption resulted in higher rates in the considered diseases: 12% cardiovascular disease, 13% coronary heart disease and 11% cerebrovascular disease.

The results of the Seguimento study of the Universidad de Navarra, Spain, published in the British Medical Journal (May 2019) also show that the consumption of extremely processed food increases the risk of death from all causes. In this survey, the data of 19,000 Spanish adults, with an average age of 38 years, were analyzed, divided into two groups: the first consumed 4 portions a day of industrial food, the second group consumed less than two portions a day. In that case, the risk of mortality increases by 62%.


These studies wanted to bring attention to the importance of following a healthy diet with fresh foods, and of avoiding industrial products as much as possible. A political action would be essential in order to create guidelines regarding industrial products. We also need more studies to investigate the cause-effect relationship between the consumption of extremely processed foods and the risk of disease and mortality, as well as the physiological effects of industrial foods. The hypothesis is that the physicochemical characteristics of these foods alter the intestinal microbiome, causing an imbalance in energy metabolism


  1. Laure Schnabel, MD, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot, Benjamin Allès et Al. – Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France – JAMA International Medicine – (February 2019) (Last viewed 02/08/2022)

  1. Bernard Srour et Al. – Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective cohort study (NutriNet-Santé) – British Medical Journal (May 2019) (Last viewed 02/08/2022)

  1. Rico-Campà A. et Al. – Association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and all cause mortality: SUN prospective cohort study – British Medical Journal (May 2019) (Last viewed 02/08/2022)

  1. Étude NutriNet-Santé – L’étude NutriNet-Santé’étude%20NutriNet-Santé (Last viewed 02/08/2022)


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