In a new study, researchers found that eating highly processed food such as candy, chips, and soft drinks may make people gain weight and have other health problems.
They found that when people ate a diet of highly processed foods, they took in more calories and gained more weight than when on a diet of minimally processed foods.
The research was conducted by a team from the NIH.
In the study, the team compared the effects of a highly processed and a minimally processed diet in 10 men and 10 women residing for four weeks at the NIH Clinical Center.
The highly processed diet included foods like canned ravioli, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pork sausage, and tater tots.
The minimally processed diet included foods like salad, grilled beef roast and vegetables, and baked fish.
Each diet lasted for two weeks. People received three meals per day plus snacks. They could eat as much or as little as they wanted.
The researchers matched the meals for calories, salt, sugar, fat, fiber, and other nutrients. And People noted that the diets both tasted good and were satisfying.
The results showed that on the highly processed diet, people ate more calories and gained an average of 2 pounds.
On the unprocessed diet, they ate fewer calories and lost about 2 pounds.
The findings support the health benefits of unprocessed foods and show the health risks of highly processed foods.
The researchers note that processed foods can be difficult to avoid. But people can choose minimally processed foods and reduce the amount of sugar, salt, fat, and calories in their meals.
Future work is needed to confirm the findings and better understand how processed food affects weight.
The lead author of the study is NIH obesity expert Dr. Kevin Hall.
The study is published in Cell Metabolism.
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