Poti: Processed Foods Account for >75% of Calories Purchased from US Grocery Stores

A study by Jennifer Poti found that >75% of the foods Americans purchased from grocery stores is moderately or highly processed, as reported by TIME on May 21, 2015.

As much as Americans like to pretend to worship at the altar of kale, many of us are cheating with chips, a new study suggests.

We like junk food so much that 61% of the food Americans buy is highly processed, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And almost 1,000 calories a day of person’s diet come solely from highly processed foods.

Read the full research article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Access a PDF version here.

(Post edited May 2015 – updated after epublication of study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Original post below.)

Processed foods take up a large portion of the grocery carts of US shoppers, Jennifer Poti, research assistant professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNCFRP team member reported at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions & Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2015 in Boston.

A story from HealthDay News featured Dr. Poti’s research, stating

Highly processed foods include items such as prepared meals, white bread, cookies, chips, soda and candy. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods include fresh or frozen vegetables, fresh meat, milk, eggs and dried beans.

From 2000 to 2012, the proportion of calories bought in highly processed foods remained stable at 61 percent to 62.5 percent. There was a significant increase in the proportion of calories bought in ready-to-heat foods (such as frozen meals), reaching more than 15 percent in 2012, the investigators found.

Poti also mentioned that the term “processed foods” brings out many strongly held opinions and beliefs in many Americans, and there is a need to distinguish between levels of processing

“It is important that when we discuss processed foods, we acknowledge that many processed foods, such as canned vegetables or whole-grain breakfast cereals, are important contributors to nutrition and food security. However, it is the highly processed foods . . . that might potentially be related to obesity,” Poti said.

Read the full story from HealthDay News here.