Concerns over consumption of ultra-processed foods during pandemic

Brazilians are consuming more ultra-processed foods during the pandemic. According to a study carried out by Datafolha, commissioned by the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection, the consumption of ultra-processed products in the 45 to 55 age group jumped from 9% in 2019 to 16% during the pandemic this year. The NutriNet Brasil study points out that the consumption of this type of food has increased in the North and Northeast regions and in the stratum with less education in the research.


Brazilian food is still healthy
The consumption of ultra-processed foods between the age group of 45 to 55 years old is worrying, because it is precisely at these ages that there is a prevalence of overweight and obesity, which can lead to the emergence of chronic diseases and influence the degree of manifestation of covid-19 in case infection, informs Renata Bertazzi Levy, from the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Medical School of USP and a member of the study NutriNet Brasil. “40 to 55 years old is not the group with the highest risk, but it already has an important risk. In addition to the presence of obesity and overweight, I would say it is a worrying scenario. Obesity is one of the factors that can worsen covid-19. ”

The increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods during the pandemic may be linked to the practicality of preparation, the search for the sensation of pleasure and even the high exposure to advertisements that arouse the desire for this type of food, explains the researcher: “This type of food does not require you to devote any time to cooking, you simply consume it. In the middle of a pandemic, it is natural that this type of food is favored, because people want to avoid shopping from time to time. They also give a lot of pleasure, are almost addictive and are the most common food in advertisements. In the pandemic, we increased screen time, just where these foods appear ”.

The survey by the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection points out that 51% of people who studied only up to elementary school consumed some type of ultra-processed product. And the NutriNet Brasil study, developed by the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health at the University of São Paulo (Nupens / USP), found that the consumption of this type of food increased in the North and Northeast regions and in the stratum with less education in the research. “At NutriNet Brasil, we identified an increase in fruits and vegetables in the population as a whole and an increase in ultra-processed foods in the population in the North, Northeast and in the lowest educational strata in our sample. The lower income or education levels have a greater risk or a greater increase in the consumption of these foods that are bad for health ”, informs Renata.

The NutriNet Brasil study intends to evaluate the food and health of 200 thousand Brazilians, from all regions, for ten years. The objective is to map the feeding characteristics that increase or reduce the incidence of chronic diseases. To be a volunteer, just access the website .

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