80% of the food consumed in the Western countries is processed. How do manufacturers manage to make us addicted to ultra-processed foods such as soft drinks, nuggets, fruits yogurts, fast food, or hamburgers is a matter of what additives and taste potentiators they add. But, according to some reports, the consumption of processed foods increase the risk of cancer.
The processed foods consumption doubled in the last years
According to recent reports, the share of these ultra-processed products based on meat, fish, and vegetables has more than doubled in recent years, to the detriment of natural products that requires much more preparation.
Today, it represents around 80% of the food consumed in the Western countries.
With extra salt, sugar, preservatives, fats, additives (sodium nitrite, titanium dioxide, monosodium glutamate), these processed foods alter or completely destroy the nutritional qualities of the main ingredients in them, which are coming from the agri-food industry.
How the manufacturers of ultra-processed foods make us addicted?
In his book “Sugar, salt, and fat – How manufacturers make us addicted?”, the US journalist Michael Moss (winner of a Pulitzer Prize) says that the success of manufacturers lies in the balance of the additives they use.
Properly dosing the sugar, salt and fat would increase the pleasure of the taste buds. “These processed foods act on certain areas of the brain in a perverse way – when they are consumed, they activate the regions of the brain related to reward and pleasure,” he explains.
Processed foods increase the risk of cancer
A new study, carried out in France and published in the British Medical Journal, suggested that consumption of so-called “ultra-processed” foods accentuates the over-risk of cancer.
A 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet is associated with an up to 18% increase in the risk of developing cancer, in general, and up to 22% increase of the breast cancer risk.
More specifically, ultra-processed foods, fats, and sauces, as well as sugary products and drinks are associated with an increased risk of cancer, globally, and ultra-processed sweet products are associated with a risk of breast cancer, according to the authors.