from the recommended-daily-amount-of-Cheez-Its dept.
For the first time, health experts who develop the federal government's dietary guidelines for Americans are reviewing the effects of ultra-processed foods on the country's health—a review that could potentially lead to first-of-their-kind warnings or suggested limits in the upcoming 2025 guidance, The Washington Post reports.
Such warning or limits would mark the first time that Americans would be advised to consider not just the basic nutritional components of foods, but also how their foods are processed.
[...] Deirdre K. Tobias, a member of the guidelines advisory committee, told the Post that the study suggested ultra-processed foods seem to promote higher "passive intake" of calories beyond what our bodies need and that the numerous epidemiological studies suggesting a link between eating ultra-processed foods and having a higher risk of many diseases is "as compelling as it can be." She declined to comment directly on the upcoming guidelines, noting that the committee's work is underway.
The Post also notes that the food industry has strongly pushed back—writing directly to the committee telling them not to issue any warnings or limits. One key point of contention is that there is no exact or established definition of what counts as "ultra-processed." Generally, it is considered to include any industrially produced food product with artificial combinations of flavors and additives, such as artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and synthetic colors. Products that easily fit the definition include things like chips, frozen dinners, boxed sweetened cereals, chicken nuggets, and boxed macaroni and cheese.
Much to the dismay of nutrition experts, the National School Lunch Program allows its 30 million participating schools to serve products clearly in the ultra-processed food category, including Domino's pizza, Lunchables, and Cheez-Its. Currently, the products must only meet the federal dietary guidance's standards for things like sodium, fat, protein, and whole grains—regardless of how many other additives they include.