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Article

Nutritional Quality, Environmental Impact and Cost of Ultra-Processed Foods: A UK Food-Based Analysis

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The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK
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Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK
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Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK
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Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland, The King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3FD, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Alberto Mantovan and Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(6), 3191; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063191
Received: 17 January 2022 / Revised: 3 March 2022 / Accepted: 4 March 2022 / Published: 8 March 2022
Food-based analyses of the healthiness, environmental sustainability and affordability of processed and ultra-processed foods are lacking. This paper aimed to determine how ultra-processed and processed foods compare to fresh and minimally processed foods in relation to nutritional quality, greenhouse gas emissions and cost on the food and food group level. Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey nutrient databank year 11 (2018/2019) were used for this analysis. Median and bootstrapped medians of nutritional quality (NRF8.3 index), greenhouse gas emissions (gCO2-equivalents) and cost (in GBP) were compared across processing categories. An optimal score based on the medians was created to identify the most nutritional, sustainable, and affordable options across processing categories. On a per 100 kcal basis, ultra-processed and processed foods had a lower nutritional quality, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and were cheaper than minimally processed foods, regardless of their total fat, salt and/or sugar content. The most nutritious, environmentally friendly, and affordable foods were generally lower in total fat, salt, and sugar, irrespective of processing level. The high variability in greenhouse gas emissions and cost across food groups and processing levels offer opportunities for food swaps representing the healthiest, greenest, and most affordable options. View Full-Text
Keywords: NOVA; NRF8.3; sustainability; cost; food; NDNS NOVA; NRF8.3; sustainability; cost; food; NDNS
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MDPI and ACS Style

Aceves-Martins, M.; Bates, R.L.; Craig, L.C.A.; Chalmers, N.; Horgan, G.; Boskamp, B.; de Roos, B. Nutritional Quality, Environmental Impact and Cost of Ultra-Processed Foods: A UK Food-Based Analysis. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 3191. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063191

AMA Style

Aceves-Martins M, Bates RL, Craig LCA, Chalmers N, Horgan G, Boskamp B, de Roos B. Nutritional Quality, Environmental Impact and Cost of Ultra-Processed Foods: A UK Food-Based Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(6):3191. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063191

Chicago/Turabian Style

Aceves-Martins, Magaly, Ruth L. Bates, Leone C.A. Craig, Neil Chalmers, Graham Horgan, Bram Boskamp, and Baukje de Roos. 2022. "Nutritional Quality, Environmental Impact and Cost of Ultra-Processed Foods: A UK Food-Based Analysis" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 6: 3191. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063191

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