BBC’s Dr Chris Van Tulleken, author of Ultra Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food… and Why Can’t We Stop gives us the lowdown.
July 16, 2023 | Source: BBC Science Focus | by Jason Goodyer
Statistics show that the majority of most adults’ diets are made up of ultra-processed food, or UPF. But what is it? And how harmful is it to our health?
We speak to Dr Chris Van Tulleken, author of Ultra Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food… and Why Can’t We Stop to find out more.
What is the difference between processed and ultra-processed food?
Food processing is ancient. We’ve been doing it as a species for more than a million years. It’s shaped our bodies. It’s shaped our guts. There are broadly three types of food: whole food, which is like an oyster or milk. You can process milk into butter, cheese or yoghurt so that’s processed food. We’ve been doing that for many thousands of years.
But ultra-processed food has a formal scientific definition that’s very widely recognised by the UN. It boils down to this if it’s wrapped in plastic and it contains an additive that you don’t find in a typical domestic kitchen, then it is ultra-processed food.