The Longitudinal Effect of Ultra-Processed Food on the Development of Dyslipidemia/Obesity as Assessed by the NOVA System and Food Compass Score

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2023 Oct;67(20):e2300003. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202300003. Epub 2023 Aug 31.


Scope: Ultra-processing food (UPF) has been a nutrition and health interest. This study is aimed to investigate the association between UPF consumption and the risk of obesity or dyslipidemia.

Methods and results: This study is performed using an ongoing cohort study including 17 310 individuals aged ≥40 years in South Korea. UPF is categorized by the NOVA system and FCS, respectively. After an average 5-year follow-up, there is a positive association between NOVA-defined UPF and dyslipidemia. The risk of the Q4 group is almost 20% higher than that of the Q1 group (men, adjusted HR = 1.209 [95% CI 1.039-1.407], women, adjusted HR = 1.195 [95% CI 1.096-1.303]). Consuming high-FCS foods (less processed and healthier foods) show a lower risk for dyslipidemia in both sexes and lower obesity risk in women compared to low-FCS consumption (men, dyslipidemia, adjusted HR = 0.857 [95% CI 0.744-0.988]; women, dyslipidemia, adjusted HR = 0.919 [95% CI 0.850-0.993], obesity, adjusted HR = 0.759 [95% CI 0.628-0.916]).

Conclusion: Higher UPF intakes assessed by the NOVA system and FCS are associated with increased incidences of dyslipidemia and obesity. Furthermore, NOVA-defined UPF shows a statistically significant negative association with AMED score, indicating poor diet quality.

Keywords: NOVA system; dyslipidemia; food compass score; obesity; ultra-processed food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Food Handling
  • Food, Processed*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology