‘Ultra-processed’ concept slammed by top academic

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Gibney: ‘Lumping foods together based on their degree of processing is a retrograde step’
Gibney: ‘Lumping foods together based on their degree of processing is a retrograde step’

Related tags: Nutrition

A growing association between the concept of “ultra-processed” foods and nutrition-related health problems has been criticised by a leading professor in the field.

Michael Gibney, professor of food and health at University College Dublin, and chair of the Irish Food Safety Authority, was sharply critical of the poor quality nutritional science behind a number of controversial public health campaigns.

No scientific evidence

Gibney expressed particular concern over the emergence of the so-called “ultra-processed”​ food concept, which he believed was based on no scientific evidence.

He claimed it appeared to focus on the way a food is processed as a measure of its nutritional acceptability, rather than its quantifiable nutritional attributes.

Furthermore, he believed no nutrition-related medical conditions have ever been linked to the use of processing in food production, and these conditions were entirely related to actual nutrient intake and not to the level of processing.

‘A retrograde step’

Gibney said: “Lumping foods together based on their degree of processing is a retrograde step in public health nutrition.

“Regrettably, some of the agencies charged with delivering public health nutrition solutions have deviated from the official World Health Organisation advice on formulation of food-based dietary guidelines, which specifically work back from implicated nutrients to food patterns to public health nutrition advice.”

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1 comment

Ultra processing

Posted by Tim Thomson,

Surely the problem is not so much the nutritional content of these foods, but more the chemical additives and processing aids, some of which may be harmful. Particularly in combination. Factory-made white bread is a case in point.

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