Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain

We investigated whether ultra-processed foods affect energy intake in20 weight-stable adults, aged (mean±SE) 31.2±1.6y and BMI=27±1.5kg/m2.

Subjects were admitted to the NIH Clinical Center and randomized to receive either ultra-processed or unprocessed diets for 2 weeks immediately followed by the alternate diet for 2 weeks. Meals were designed to be matched for presented calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber. Subjects were instructed to consume as much or as little as desired.

Energy intake was greater during the ultra-processed diet (508±106 kcal/d;p=0.0001), with increased consumption of carbohydrate (280±54 kcal/d; p<0.0001) and fat (230±53 kcal/d; p=0.0004) but not protein (-2±12 kcal/d; p=0.85).Weight changes were highly correlated with energy intake (r=0.8, p<0.0001) with participants gaining 0.8±0.3 kg (p=0.01) during the ultra-processed diet and losing 1.1±0.3 kg (p=0.001) during the unprocessed diet.

Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT0340703

NutriXiv Preprints: Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: A one-month inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake