NOV 24, 2022 9:00 AM PST

Processed Foods Linked to Obesity

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A recent study published in the journal Obesity has shown that highly processed foods may be driving the obesity epidemic by increasing “protein hunger” and causing people to overeat.

The study included data from over 9,000 Australians who participated in the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. The authors of the study sought to test the predictions of the protein leverage hypothesis (PLH), which states that the drive for protein intake can cause humans to overeat and gain weight when their diets contain too many fats and carbohydrates. Since processed and refined foods are low in protein and high in fats and carbohydrates, modern humans may overeat these processed foods until they have satisfied their body’s appetite for protein, which causes weight gain and obesity. To test this hypothesis, the authors of the study measured total energy intake per day and energy intake versus time to see whether either was related to the protein content of meals.

The researchers found that their results matched the predications of the PLH. Participants who consumed lower amounts of protein earlier in the day increased their overall food intake throughout the day, whereas those who received the recommended amount of protein in their first meal decreased their food intake throughout the day. Importantly, those who consumed a higher proportion of protein in their first meal of the day had lower overall energy intake. Moreover, those who consumed a lower proportion of protein than recommended for their first meal made poorer dietary choices throughout the day, including consuming more foods high in saturated fats and sugars and fewer healthful foods such as fruits, grains, and vegetables.

The obesity epidemic is worsening across the globe and is associated with a variety of health problems, including heart disease. The results of the study suggest simple, actionable steps to fend off obesity: avoid processed foods and eat a high-protein breakfast.

Sources: Obesity, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
You May Also Like
SEP 06, 2022
Cardiology
Night Shifts Can't Be "Adjusted To" and are Associated with Health Risks
Night Shifts Can't Be "Adjusted To" and are Associated with Health Risks
Night shift workers experience significant disruptions to their sleep quality and circadian rhythms.
SEP 19, 2022
Health & Medicine
The Link Between Monkeypox and Heart Disease
The Link Between Monkeypox and Heart Disease
A case study published in JACC: Case Reports featured a 31-year-old male infected with monkeypox who developed acute myo ...
SEP 27, 2022
Cardiology
Diet Changes Majorly Reduce Heart Risks
Diet Changes Majorly Reduce Heart Risks
The best lifestyle approach to reducing high blood pressure may be the DASH diet.
OCT 06, 2022
Cancer
Caregivers Need Exercise Too
Caregivers Need Exercise Too
We all know that exercise and a good diet benefit overall health.  Several studies indicate that cancer survivorshi ...
DEC 13, 2022
Cardiology
Too Many or Too Few Job Demands Lead to Poor Sleep
Too Many or Too Few Job Demands Lead to Poor Sleep
There is a "sweet spot" in work responsibilities that leads to optimal sleep.
JAN 24, 2023
Cardiology
5-Minute Walking Breaks Counter Negative Effects of Sitting
5-Minute Walking Breaks Counter Negative Effects of Sitting
Quick walking breaks during work could improve your cardiovascular health.
Loading Comments...