Heavily processed foods tied to diabetes

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Published: March, 2020

As we've reported before, eating or drinking heavily processed foods — like sugary drinks, chicken nuggets, frozen dinners, or sweetened cereals — is associated with an increased risk for weight gain, heart disease, and even early death. Now a large observational study published online Dec. 16, 2019, by JAMA Internal Medicine links the consumption of such "ultraprocessed" food to an increased risk for developing diabetes. Researchers evaluated the questionnaire responses of more than 100,000 diabetes-free people (average age about 43) over six years. People who ate the most ultraprocessed foods (about 22% of their diet) had a higher risk for developing diabetes compared with people who ate the least amount of ultraprocessed foods (about 11% of their diet). The risk for developing diabetes went up 15% for a 10-percentage-point increase in the amount of ultraprocessed food in the diet. The connection held up even after scientists accounted for known risk factors for diabetes, such as weight and physical activity. The takeaway: Skip processed foods in favor of whole foods, including lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

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