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Ultra-Processed Food and Obesity: The Pitfalls of Extrapolation from Short Studies
Urge caution about extrapolation of short-term data on food intake to obesity prevention and treatment, as in the recent study by Hall et al.(2019) on ultra-processed food, by adressing two questions : What is driving food intake? Does this effect have relevance to the chronic control of body weight?
The concept of ultra-processing (Monteiro et al., 2018) provides a useful system to identify industrial products with the worst of numerous nutritional qualities;substantial evidence links this dietary pattern with obesity and chronic diseases. However, the findings of Hall et al. may be transient and independent of processing per se. It might be tempting to attribute modern-day diet problems predominantly to food processing, thu simplicitly shifting responsibility for the obesity epidemic to the food industry. But knowledge of the chronic drivers of food intake, including the metabolic effects of food independent of calorie con-tent, is needed to mitigate the risks of misguiding the food industry in how to ormulate more healthful food products,and the public in nutrition recommendations, as previously occurred duringthe low-fat diet era. Although data on the acute control of food intake can be useful, long-term studies will be needed to resolve these controversies.
Ludwig DS, Astrup A, Bazzano LA, et al.