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This randomized study of 20 hospitalized patients who had stable weight found that patients who ate an ultra-processed diet gained more weight compared with patients who consumed an unprocessed diet even though the calorie intake was the same.
One of the notable points of this study was that difference in weight gain between the two groups was striking even with the short duration of follow-up. Although, the long-term consequences of consuming ultra-processed diets is yet to be elucidated, these findings are compelling in terms of the importance of limiting the intake of such foods to prevent obesity.
– Andrea Dotson, MD, MSPH
This abstract is available on the publisher's site.
We investigated whether ultra-processed foods affect energy intake in 20 weight-stable adults, aged (mean ± SE) 31.2 ± 1.6 years and BMI = 27 ± 1.5 kg/m2. 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 consume as much or as little as desired. Energy intake was greater during the ultra-processed diet (508 ± 106 kcal/day; p = 0.0001), with increased consumption of carbohydrate (280 ± 54 kcal/day; p < 0.0001) and fat (230 ± 53 kcal/day; p = 0.0004), but not protein (-2 ± 12 kcal/day; p = 0.85). Weight changes were highly correlated with energy intake (r = 0.8, p < 0.0001), with participants gaining 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.009) during the ultra-processed diet and losing 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.007) during the unprocessed diet. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.
Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of ad Libitum Food Intake
Cell Metab. 2019 May 16;[EPub Ahead of Print], KD Hall, A Ayuketah, R Brychta, H Cai, T Cassimatis, KY Chen, ST Chung, E Costa, A Courville, V Darcey, LA Fletcher, CG Forde, AM Gharib, J Guo, R Howard, PV Joseph, S McGehee, R Ouwerkerk, K Raisinger, I Rozga, M Stagliano, M Walter, PJ Walter, S Yang, M Zhou