A recent study found that regularly consuming ultra-processed meals can raise the chance of getting a number of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

The study, which was released on Monday in The Lancet Regional Health, showed a 9% rise in multimorbidity, or the simultaneous presence of several chronic illnesses in one person. Even though the results are modest, researchers are concerned.

Helen Croker, Ph.D., assistant director of research and policy at World Cancer Research Fund International, which funded the study, said in a statement, “What’s particularly significant in this large study is that eating more ultra-processed foods, in particular animal products and sweetened beverages, was linked to an increased risk of developing cancer along with another disease such as a stroke or diabetes.”

Unsurprisingly, researchers also discovered that eating more ultra-processed food increased the chance of getting two or more chronic health issues. Dr. Croker noted a particularly strong correlation between animal-based goods like sausages and ham and sweetened beverages like soda.

Ultra-processed foods are foods that are convenient, have additives, and can be stored for a long time. According to Harvard, additives can include extra sugars, salts, or fats to make the meal seem prettier, artificial colours or flavours, compounds to assist extend shelf life or prevent ingredients from separating, and more. Foods like store-bought cookies, chips, pastries, ice cream, and soda are among the examples.

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