Author Topic: processed food and mortality  (Read 945 times)

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Offline lonely moa

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processed food and mortality
« on: February 12, 2019, 10:03:44 PM »
Just an observational study, but, something to consider.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2723626
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Online bachfiend

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2019, 10:14:48 PM »
Just an observational study, but, something to consider.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2723626

Without being able to read the full article (it’s behind a paywall) it looks like a pretty good study.  And of course there’s the almost mandatory authors’ caveat that there’s a need for further prospective studies.  Although, how you’d do a prospective trial is a mystery to me.

I certainly like the study results because it validates my prejudice against processed foods.
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Offline lonely moa

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2019, 12:20:12 AM »

I certainly like the study results because it validates my prejudice against processed foods.

Snap.
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Offline fred.slota

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2019, 04:27:02 AM »
Two comments.

1) The study wasn't on "processed food", but the more specific "ultraprocessed food" category, defined as " (from the NOVA food classification system), characterized as ready-to-eat or -heat formulations made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives".  I politely suggest renaming the thread subject.  (also, gotta love the phrase "made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives", as opposed to, you know, "made from ingredients unusually combined with additives".  Or just "made from ingredients".  Or possibly "made from additives".  "Made without ingredients"?)

2)
I certainly like the study results because it validates my prejudice against processed foods.

Does it?  Correlation is not causation.  Observed differences might have no link to the diet.

Online bachfiend

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2019, 06:22:56 AM »
Two comments.

1) The study wasn't on "processed food", but the more specific "ultraprocessed food" category, defined as " (from the NOVA food classification system), characterized as ready-to-eat or -heat formulations made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives".  I politely suggest renaming the thread subject.  (also, gotta love the phrase "made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives", as opposed to, you know, "made from ingredients unusually combined with additives".  Or just "made from ingredients".  Or possibly "made from additives".  "Made without ingredients"?)

2)
I certainly like the study results because it validates my prejudice against processed foods.

Does it?  Correlation is not causation.  Observed differences might have no link to the diet.

Well, they tried to control for confounding factors, such as the subjects consuming increased ultraprocessed foods being younger, less affluent, less educated, etc.  At the risk of resuscitating a dead horse, it’s ‘correlation does not prove causation,’ rather than ‘correlation is not causation.’  Actually, if there is causation, there will be correlation, necessarily. 

Again, it would be extremely difficult to do a prospective controlled study.

I probably expressed myself badly.  I should have written ‘I certainly like the study results because it validates (in my own mind) my prejudice against processed foods.’
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Offline fred.slota

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2019, 08:10:22 AM »
Two comments.

1) The study wasn't on "processed food", but the more specific "ultraprocessed food" category, defined as " (from the NOVA food classification system), characterized as ready-to-eat or -heat formulations made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives".  I politely suggest renaming the thread subject.  (also, gotta love the phrase "made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives", as opposed to, you know, "made from ingredients unusually combined with additives".  Or just "made from ingredients".  Or possibly "made from additives".  "Made without ingredients"?)

2)
I certainly like the study results because it validates my prejudice against processed foods.

Does it?  Correlation is not causation.  Observed differences might have no link to the diet.

Well, they tried to control for confounding factors, such as the subjects consuming increased ultraprocessed foods being younger, less affluent, less educated, etc.  At the risk of resuscitating a dead horse, it’s ‘correlation does not prove causation,’ rather than ‘correlation is not causation.’  Actually, if there is causation, there will be correlation, necessarily. 

Again, it would be extremely difficult to do a prospective controlled study.

I probably expressed myself badly.  I should have written ‘I certainly like the study results because it validates (in my own mind) my prejudice against processed foods.’

Sorry for my brevity/misquote.  My intention was "Correlation is not necessarily causation."  Thank you.

Couple of added thoughts.

1) Self-reported data, not the greatest - its what they had, I know.

2) I'm unclear when they said "The ultraprocessed foods group (from the NOVA food classification system), characterized as ready-to-eat or -heat formulations made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives." if they were only counting ready-to-eat or -heat, or the entirety of NOVA group 4, which includes your carbonated drinks, snack foods, breakfast cereals, most diet items, etc.  Oh, and whisky, gin, rum and vodka.

3) The mortality is referred to in the paper several times as all-cause mortality.  That is, 602 deaths from an initial population of 44,551, but no differentiation of cause of death, it sounds like.  I'm curious if there's a more nuanced answer if there was a bit of granularity in that.  Is it death overall, or is there more correlation to certain types of death - heart attack, choking, food poisoning, auto accident, or even a stampede of wild elephants in your own home between 3:55 and 4:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July during a hailstorm (with one baby zebra).


Even with their dealing with the possible confounding factors that they had data for, plus your irrelevant reminder of "but Causation is Correlation", and the addition that your approval was based on your opinion, I'm still left with the conclusion that this study should not validate anything.  Correlation is not necessarily causation.



Offline lonely moa

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2019, 01:29:27 PM »
Death is clearly the easiest definite endpoint to identify.  A fairly important one as well.

I thought the authors made the limitations of the study fairly clear.
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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2019, 02:32:20 PM »
Death is clearly the easiest definite endpoint to identify.  A fairly important one as well.

I thought the authors made the limitations of the study fairly clear.

And of course, there also the mandatory caveat that there’s a need for further studies.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2019, 03:46:09 PM »
I share the opinion that ultra-processed foods (using my own, intuitive but undefined, meaning for the term) to be unhealthy. Some ready-to-eat foods do not fit my definition: fruits and veggies eaten raw are ready to eat, but not ultraprocessed.

OTOH, bread seems to fit their definition of untra-processed: it is sold ready to eat, and is generally made with ingredients plus additives. A few regulars here regard bread as bad, but I feel safe in saying that most here, along with the medical and dietary communities, regard 100% whole-grain bread as healthy. I certainly do.

So I’m not clear on what ultra-processed foods are. I usually speak of junk foods, which I define as any finished product, intended to be eaten, in which there is a significant excess of sugar, fat, or salt. (Sugar, fats, and salt are not themselves intended to be eaten separately, so I don’t consider them as junk foods as sold.)
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2019, 05:36:35 PM »
I agree that some foods, cooked or prepared by some methods are not optimal for health.

Offline jt512

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2019, 06:01:34 PM »
Just an observational study, but, something to consider.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2723626

Without being able to read the full article (it’s behind a paywall) it looks like a pretty good study.  And of course there’s the almost mandatory authors’ caveat that there’s a need for further prospective studies.  Although, how you’d do a prospective trial is a mystery to me.

The authors conclude that more prospective studies are needed, not necessarily prospective trials.  The study itself is a prospective study.
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Offline jt512

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2019, 06:15:50 PM »
I'm still left with the conclusion that this study should not validate anything.  Correlation is not necessarily causation.

The point is that the reported relation between processed food and mortality is not mere correlation.  Rather, it is a relation observed after controlling for numerous potentially confounding variables.  This control can never be perfect, so it is rare that even the best prospective cohort study can be considered conclusive.  But you can't just brush the results off as "correlation."
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Online bachfiend

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2019, 07:10:36 PM »
Just an observational study, but, something to consider.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2723626

Without being able to read the full article (it’s behind a paywall) it looks like a pretty good study.  And of course there’s the almost mandatory authors’ caveat that there’s a need for further prospective studies.  Although, how you’d do a prospective trial is a mystery to me.

The authors conclude that more prospective studies are needed, not necessarily prospective trials.  The study itself is a prospective study.

OK, I stand corrected.  It’s not a controlled study though.  People have to choose themselves to consume ultra-processed food, and they may differ in some significant way difficult to control for, although the authors tried to control for the factors they could think of.  People eating ultra-processed food may be under stress that can’t be quantified.

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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2019, 09:15:53 PM »
Did we already cover the difference between an "ingredient" and an "additive"? Isn't an additive just another ingredient?
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Online bachfiend

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Re: processed food and mortality
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2019, 09:43:25 PM »
Did we already cover the difference between an "ingredient" and an "additive"? Isn't an additive just another ingredient?

Well, an ingredient is a necessary part of a recipe.  An additive isn’t necessary, and can be deleted if wanted.  Additives are for taste or to preserve the food.

A meat pie wouldn’t be a meat pie if it doesn’t include meat as an ingredient.  A meat pie still would be a meat pie if it doesn’t include extra added salt as an additive.  It’s not just the quantity that’s important.  Yeast (or sourdough culture) are ingredients.  Omit them, and you don’t get bread.  Or at least, leavened bread.
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