2 weeks to weight gain
Scientists have found that two weeks is all it takes to gain weight by eating ultra processed foods. Studies have been conducted on mice linking processed foods and problems such as intestinal inflammation and obesity. Studies in humans show a connection between ultra processed foods and health outcomes like cancer, autoimmune conditions, obesity and even death.
Ultra processed foods are those that are low in unprocessed ingredients. They include packaged snacks, soft drinks, frozen meals, meat nuggets etc.
Findings from research
A controlled clinical trial was conducted to compare the facts of unprocessed and ultra-processed food on humans. 10 male and female volunteers were a part of the research and they stayed at the NIH clinical Centre for 28 days. Ultra- processed food was given to half of the participants for the first two weeks and unprocessed food was given to the other half. After this two week period the diets were switched between the groups. The volunteers ate around three meals a day and they could eat how much ever they wanted.
An average of 508 calories more was consumed every day by the volunteers on the ultra-processed diet than when they were on the unprocessed diet. This made them gain an average of 2 pounds during the two weeks in the form of body fat. The findings from the study was surprising because both the diets were matched for components like carbohydrates, proteins, fat, sugars and sodium. It was also noted that the participants in the unprocessed food group lost approximately 0.9 kg during the two week study period.
Is it a social problem?
Ultra processed foods account for more than half of the calories consumed in USA. They come across as convenient and cheap options. Those from a lower strata in the society tend to consume more ultra processed foods especially due to lower availability and high prices of healthy and fresh foods.