Packaged food and beverages in the U.S. are ultra-processed and ultra unhealthy

Food supply has a huge impact on the health status of a given population. It also plays a central role in the development of chronic diseases. In the U.S., the food supply is dominated by packaged foods and beverages, and about 80 percent of the total calories consumed by Americans come from these store-bought products. This shows that food and beverage manufacturers hold the key to creating a healthier food environment and improving the diet of Americans.

But while dietary guidelines are routinely updated to help improve public health, American consumers, together with researchers and policy makers, are still left in the dark as to what kinds of food products (whether healthy or unhealthy) are made available on grocery shelves, mainly due to a lack of regular tracking and reporting. This, health experts point out, is a problem that needs to be addressed with utmost urgency.

In a recent study published in Nutrients, American and Australian researchers found, after a cross-sectional assessment of the state of the U.S. packaged food and beverage supply, that Americans are overexposed to ultra-processed and generally unhealthy foods. Compared with Australia and the U.K., the U.S. food supply is more processed and has a higher median sugar and sodium content….

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