'Processing' nutrition advice: how to inform guidelines on ultra-processed food
Food processing has been part of our food environment for millennia, but recent advances in technology have taken processing to the next level, creating myriad packaged foods that our ancestors would not even have recognised as edible. Whilst this advancement in processing was certainly advantageous at a time of significant malnutrition following the World Wars, its adoption as a staple of our diet has fundamentally changed the way we eat and, along with it, our health. Recent evidence suggests that the consumption of ultra-processed foods is linked to metabolic morbidity, but these findings are not reflected in nutritional advice in the UK. I argue that public health advice and policy in the UK does not go far enough to highlight the risks of consuming ultra-processed food and, by focusing on a reductionist approach to nutrition, actually promotes the consumption of these products. I further recommend that Public Health England should consider adopting a whole foods approach to nutrition advice. Not only would this serve to minimise the confusion over macronutrient balances, it would also promote the consumption of whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, thereby fostering an improvement in our collective health and wellbeing.