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Rev Saude Publica. 2015;49:28. Epub 2015 May 26.

Consumption of ultra-processed foods and their impact on the diet of young adults.


OBJECTIVE To evaluate the consumption of ultra-processed foods, its associated factors, and its influence on nutrient intake in young adults. METHODS In 2004-2005, the individuals belonging to the Pelotas birth cohort of 1982 were identified for a home interview. A total of 4,297 individuals were interviewed and 4,202 individuals were included in the study (follow-up rate of 77.4%). Diet was assessed using a questionnaire on dietary intake and the percentage of daily caloric intake attributed to ultra-processed foods as well as the intake of macro- and micronutrients were estimated. The association between cohort characteristics and the consumption of ultra-processed foods was assessed using linear regression. Analysis of variance and Pearson's Chi-square test were used to evaluate the association between the quintiles of the consumption of ultra-processed food, nutrient intake and adequacy of nutrient intake, respectively. RESULTS The consumption of ultra-processed foods corresponded to 51.2% of the total caloric intake. The consumption of ultra-processed foods was higher among women, individuals with higher education, and individuals who were never poor and eutrophic. The increased consumption of ultra-processed foods was positively correlated with the consumption of fat, cholesterol, sodium, iron, calcium, and calories (p < 0.001) and was negatively correlated with the consumption of carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS The high consumption of ultra-processed foods and its positive correlation with the intake of sodium, cholesterol, and fats underscores the need to perform interventions aimed at decreasing the intake of this food group.

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