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Ultra-processed food and non-communicable diseases in the United Kingdom: A narrative review and thematic synthesis of literature.

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Henney, Alex E 
Gillespie, Conor S 
Alam, Uazman 
Hydes, Theresa J 
Boyland, Emma 


The social and economic constructs of the United Kingdom (UK) provide a fertile food environment for the dramatic expansion in the ultra-processed food (UPF) market, driving increased UPF consumption. This has coincided with the significant increase in the incidence and prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, with an inherent impact on morbidity and mortality. Our review aims to assess the current epidemiological and public health trends in the United Kingdom, specifically examining consumption of UPFs and subsequent development of NCDs, summarizing existing meta-analytical and experimental approaches. First, we address important socioeconomic and psychosocial domains that may contribute to increased availability and consumption of UPF. Additionally, we explore the putative mechanistic basis for the association between UPFs and NCDs: partly attributable to their energy density, the macro- and micronutrient composition (including high refined carbohydrate, saturated, and trans fats composition, in addition to low fiber and protein content), and artificially engineered additives and other compounds that adversely affect health in inadequately researched pathophysiological pathways. This review highlights the importance of promoting minimally processed diets to both clinical and political decision makers.


Publication status: Published


NOVA, United Kingdom, diet quality, non-communicable disease, ultra-processed, Humans, Food, Processed, Noncommunicable Diseases, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Food Handling, Fast Foods, Diet, United Kingdom

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