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What is ultra-processed food? And why do people disagree about its utility as a concept? - new Foodsource building block

The consumption of ultra-processed foods (as defined by the NOVA framework) has been associated with medical conditions including overweight, obesity and cancer. Besides impacting upon health, ultra-processed foods are also argued to undermine social and environmental sustainability.

The term 'ultra-processed food' is gaining traction and is central to the dietary guidelines of Brazil and several other Latin American countries. Opponents of the term, however, say the concept is ill-defined, adds little detail to existing knowledge on food and dietary health, and is ultimately biased by an implicit prejudice against profit making and ‘Big Food’.

This building block explores the concept of ultra-processed food. It investigates the arguments that opponents and proponents use, and the scientific evidence they bring forward, to support their viewpoints.

The Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) conducts, synthesises, and communicates research on food sustainability.

We inform and connect stakeholders with a common interest in building sustainable food systems.

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