Ultra-processed Foods, Weight Gain, and Co-morbidity Risk

Curr Obes Rep. 2022 Sep;11(3):80-92. doi: 10.1007/s13679-021-00460-y. Epub 2021 Oct 22.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to provide an update on the available data regarding the associations of Ultra-processed food (UPF) consumption with food intake and possible underlying mechanisms relating UPF consumption to weight gain and co-morbidities.

Recent findings: In primarily observational studies, UPF consumption is consistently associated with an increased risk for weight gain among adults and children and increased risk for adiposity-related co-morbidities in adults. In a single mechanistic study, consumption of UPFs led to increased energy intake and weight gain relative to whole foods. UPFs tend to be more energy-dense than nutrient-dense, and UPF consumption is associated with increased adiposity and co-morbidity risk. These data suggest that recommendations to limit UPF consumption may be beneficial to health - though further mechanistic studies are needed.

Keywords: Chronic disease; NOVA; Ultra-processed foods; Weight gain; Weight management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects
  • Food Handling*
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Weight Gain