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According to the study, ultra-processed foods are not found to be more attractive.

According to research, ultra-processed foods are not considered any more attractive than foods that have undergone less processing.

A study conducted at the University of Bristol examined the taste perception of various types of food in order to investigate the hypothesis that calorie content and degree of processing play a significant role in determining our preferences and cravings for food.

According to Prof Peter Rogers, the main researcher of the study, the findings question the belief that ultra-processed foods are excessively appealing, and it is surprising that this has not been investigated previously.

In the experiment, 224 grown-ups volunteered to take part and were shown colored pictures of 24 to 32 common foods such as avocado, grapes, cashew nuts, king prawns, olives, blueberry muffins, crispbread, pepperoni sausages, and ice cream.

The calorie count, level of processing (including ultra-processed foods), and proportion of carbohydrates to fats varied among the different types of food.

Afterwards, the volunteers were instructed to evaluate the foods based on their taste appeal (likability), appetite, level of sweetness, and level of saltiness, while mentally simulating the act of consuming them.

The findings of the research, which was published in the Appetite journal, indicated that there was no significant difference in preference or desirability between ultra-processed foods (UPFs) and processed or unprocessed foods.

In addition, they discovered that certain foods had a stronger taste profile (particularly in terms of sweetness and saltiness), and were preferred and craved more.

According to Rogers, our study showed that ultra-processing did not consistently determine how much someone would enjoy the food (its palatability). However, the ratio of carbohydrates to fat, the amount of fiber in the food, and the intensity of its taste were strong indicators – in fact, these three factors together explained over half of the variation in liking among the foods we examined.

Our proposal is that the human body is naturally inclined to develop a preference for foods that contain a balanced ratio of carbohydrates and fat, with a lower percentage of fiber. This is due to the fact that these types of foods provide fewer feelings of satiety per calorie. In simpler terms, we prioritize calorie intake over feeling full.

The group responsible for the research, headed by Bristol’s Nutrition and Behaviour Group, stated that the effectiveness of their approach was proven by discovering a significant correlation between sweetness ratings and the sugar content of food.

There is increasing worry about the rising consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods (UPFs) worldwide, with UPFs accounting for over half of the typical diet in both the UK and US.

New research has connected ultra-processed foods (UPFs) like ice cream, soda, and pre-made meals to negative health effects, such as a higher likelihood of developing cancer, gaining weight, and heart problems. Yet, other studies have found that certain UPFs, like bread and cereals, can actually have positive effects on health.

Source: theguardian.com