You can’t eat just one: addictive ultra-processed foods

13th January 2024 by Dr Judith Harvey

You can’t eat just one: addictive ultra-processed foods

Recent research published in the BMJ shows that ultra-processed snacks are addictive. A goldmine for Britain’s powerful food manufacturers, but the consequences – not just obesity with all the attendant risks but tooth decay, low mood and poor concentration – are a disaster for the health of the nation. 

Snacking is nothing new. When I lived in the highlands of PNG the big social event was a ‘pig-kill’. Once the pig had been slaughtered, the first bits to be cut off were the ears. They were given to the children to chew to keep them quiet during the lengthy butchering and cooking in the earth oven along with sweet potato and some greens. A snack, but in a few hours everyone would enjoy the real feast. 

Food used to be an occasion; now it’s a pit stop. The modern ‘grazing’ culture has blurred the line between a snack and a meal. And the notion that you deserve a treat has blurred the line between a snack and an occasional indulgence or reward. Even dogs are now entitled to ‘treats’.

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