Intended for healthcare professionals

  1. Carlos A Monteiro, professor of public health nutrition1,
  2. Geoffrey Cannon, senior research fellow2
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo 01246-904, Brazil
  2. 2Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to: C A Monteiro carlosam{at}

People need nourishing food that promotes health, not the opposite

The two papers linked to this editorial report associations between poor health outcomes and ultra-processed food and drinks.12 Both papers use the Nova food classification, which divides all foods into four groups according to the extent and purpose of their processing.3

Ultra-processed foods (Nova group 4) are industrial formulations made by deconstructing whole foods into chemical constituents, altering them and recombining them with additives into products that are alternatives to fresh and minimally processed foods and freshly prepared meals.4 Most ultra-processed foods are made, sold, and promoted by corporations, typically transnational, that formulate them to be convenient (ready to consume), affordable (low cost ingredients), and hyper-palatable, and thus liable to displace other foods and also to be over-consumed.5 This food group includes soft drinks; packaged snacks; commercial breads, cakes, and biscuits; confectionery; sweetened breakfast “cereals”; sugared milk based and “fruit” drinks; margarine; and pre-processed ready-to-eat or heat products such as burgers, pastas, and pizzas.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of large, well …

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