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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Northwestern: Study Finds America’s Packaged Food Supply is Ultra-processed

Americans are over-exposed to products that are high in calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study that reports the United States packaged food supply and beverage supply in 2018 was ultra-processed and generally unhealthy.

Since about 80 percent of Americans’ total calorie consumption comes from store-bought foods and beverages (packaged and unpackaged), the food and beverage supply plays a central role in the development of chronic disease including obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The study was published July 24 in the journal Nutrients. It aims to provide new information for consumers, researchers and policymakers to encourage food manufacturers to reformulate or replace unhealthy products and to inform the U.S. government on where action may be needed to improve the healthfulness of the U.S. packaged food and beverage supply.

“To say that our food supply is highly processed won’t shock anyone, but it’s important that we hold food and beverage manufacturers accountable by continually documenting how they’re doing in terms of providing healthy foods for consumers,” said lead author Dr. Abigail Baldridge, a biostatistician in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “And the verdict is they can and should be doing a whole lot better.”

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