Combining food taxes and subsidies can lead to healthier grocery purchases for low-income households

A new study that models the combined effects of a sugar-based tax on beverages and targeted subsidies for minimally processed foods and drinks found that under these policies, low-income consumers would purchase less sugar-sweetened beverages and more fruits, vegetables, and healthier drinks, particularly in households without children.   Researchers from the Global Food Research Program […]

New study charts policy path to identifying ultra-processed foods and beverages high in nutrients of concern

A new study from researchers at the Global Food Research Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and The George Institute for Global Health provides guidance for policymakers on how to identify ultra-processed foods and beverages that are also high in salt, sugar, saturated fat, or calorie-dense for regulation. To date, food policies aimed at improving population nutrition […]

Ultra-processed products make up nearly half of low-income South African adults’ diets

Low-income South African adults consume, on average, 40% of their calories from ultra-processed products, according to a new study published this month in Public Health Nutrition. Meanwhile, only 7% meet the World Health Organization’s recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable intake, and only 19% meet fiber recommendations. Researchers at the University of the Western Cape […]

Ultra-processed foods: a global threat to public health

We are pleased to share a major update to our fact sheet on ultra-processed foods. This resource explains what ultra-processed foods are, how consumption around the world has increased dramatically, the negative impacts their consumption can have on health and the environment, and policy approaches to curb their dominance in the food system. This fact […]

Popkin featured in The Guardian

Barry Popkin was featured in The Guardian this week in an article about the rise of snacking and ultra-processed food consumption in African and Asian countries. He drew on his years of research on the Nutrition Transition, the rising double burden of malnutrition, and the global spread of ultra-processed foods.

Over half of foods and beverages purchased by Americans contain technical food additives — a 10% increase since 2001

A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found that 60% of foods purchased by Americans contain technical food additives such as coloring or flavoring agents, preservatives, or sweeteners. This represents a 10% increase since 2001. Manufacturers have also increased the average number of additives in purchased food and […]

After Chile’s labeling and marketing law, drink purchases contained less sugar and more non-nutritive sweeteners, but overall sweetness stayed the same

Two recent studies conducted by researchers from the Global Food Research Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Chile have found that in the first phase of Chile’s Law of Food Labeling and Advertising, consumers’ beverage purchases contained less sugar and more non-nutritive sweeteners (e.g., Aspartame, Stevia, or Sucralose), but overall beverage sweetness stayed […]

Americans consume red meat from a variety of foods, creating opportunities to introduce meat-free substitutions

The typical American diet is high in red and processed meat, contributing to health risks and raising concerns for environmental sustainability. A study published this week in Public Health Nutrition used data from national diet surveys to look at which specific types of foods make up the bulk of U.S. red and processed meat intake […]

Ultra-processed diets and epidemics of obesity and noncommunicable diseases are still avoidable for some countries: Policy options for a different Nutrition Transition

Dr. Barry Popkin and Dr. Shu Wen Ng believe that, with the right policy actions, many low- and middle-income countries can still avoid reaching the high levels of ultra-processed food intake and nutrition-related diseases currently faced by many countries around the world. In a recent article in Obesity Reviews, Popkin and Ng outline why countries should commit now to policies that can […]

For a healthier world, target ultra-processed foods

Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Global Food Research Program (GFRP) have spent years evaluating the role that food plays in health, obesity and disease, as well as the public health policies that can moderate the negative impacts of unhealthy food and beverages on quality of life around the world. In a new paper, published April 15, […]

Researchers ponder the saturated fat comeback as sodium, sugar decrease in processed foods

A Washington Post article highlights a new government report that shows many packaged food and beverage products enter and exit the marketplace in a short period of time, and from 2009-2012 the nutrients in such products changed. Food manufacturers have created new packaged products with less sodium and sugar, but more saturated fat than the […]

You’d Be Surprised at How Many Foods Contain Added Sugar

An article in The Upshot from the New York Times featured our research showing over 60% of the foods and beverages purchased in American grocery stores contain added sugar. Some of those products are more obvious sugary foods, but not all. The list includes many sauces, soups, fruit juices and even meat products. You might think it’s […]

Study by Jen Poti finds differences in household purchases of highly processed foods

A newly published study by Dr. Jen Poti found that African-American and Hispanic households purchased less of highly processed foods when compared to White households. Dr. Poti discussed the findings in a press release from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health: “Our findings indicate that purchases of highly processed foods were lower among […]

Evaluation of Mexico’s Tax on Nonessential Energy-Dense Foods shows Decline in Purchases

A new study done with collaboration between Global Food Research Program at UNC & Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health (INSP) has found that after the ‘junk food tax’ was enacted in Mexico in January 2014 household purchases of the taxed food items decreased. There was a 5.1% decrease in amount of taxed foods in […]

Ingredients: Added Sugars & Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Scientific evidence, expert groups, and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend decreasing caloric intake from added sugars. The recently announced update of the Nutrition Facts Panel from the FDA means that food labels will be required to report grams of added sugars in foods in the future. Even though 75% of packaged foods purchased in the […]