Ultra-processed food kills, says WHO

12 June 2024

As reported by Food Navigator Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that 2.7 million people in Europe die annually due to four major commercial products, one of which is ultra-processed food (UPF). The other three are alcohol, tobacco, and fossil fuel.

UPFs are associated with obesity and unhealthy diets, which, in turn, elevate the risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

The UN Agency believes that marketing tactics are driving inappropriate consumption of these products, particularly targeting vulnerable population subgroups. Food and beverage industry players deny responsibility and shift the blame to individuals.

To protect the public from harmful products and manipulative marketing, European governments can implement stronger regulations related to transparency, lobbying, marketing practices, and health-harming products. They could also consider taxing multinational companies.

However, food and beverage manufacturers argue against demonising UPFs. They claim that there is no consensus on their health impact and that the NOVA classification is too broad. Instead, they propose focusing on the nutritional content of food and its frequency of consumption, taking into account individual lifestyles.