PEOPLE who eat “ultra-processed” food are more likely to die young than those who cook from scratch, a study suggests.
The higher fat, sugar and salt content of supermarket ready meals, bread and sausage rolls may be to blame, researchers warn.
Scientists, from Paris-Sorbonne University, examined the diets of 44,551 people and followed them for seven years.
They found every ten per cent increase in “ultra-processed” food consumption was linked to a 14 per cent higher risk of death.
Around half of the food Brits eat is heavily processed, including preserved meat, sugary breakfast cereal, cakes and biscuits.
Fat, sugar and salt fuels obesity and high blood pressure, which have been linked to heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes.
But this is the first major study to link high consumption of processed food with higher death rates.
Ultra-processed food is often higher in additives and lower in fibre. And it may be sold in packaging that contains harmful chemicals.
Researchers found it was more popular among those who were younger, had poorer education, lived alone or had higher body weight.
Study leader Dr Laure Schnabel warned: “Consumption of ultra-processed foods has increased during the past several decades and is associated with an overall unbalanced nutritional profile.
“An increase in ultra-processed foods consumption appears to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk among this adult population.”
Prof Nita Forouhi, of Cambridge University, said: “The case against highly-processed foods is mounting up.”