'Ultra-processed' nuggets and noodles could be death of you, claim scientists
Diets including "ultra-processed" ready meals such as chicken nuggets, instant noodle soup and preserved meat products can increase the risk of early death, according to research.
Scientists in France who studied more than 44,500 men and women aged 45 and older uncovered a strong link between eating badly and mortality.
Every 10pc increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 14pc greater risk of death from any cause.
During the follow-up, researchers recorded 602 deaths - 1.4pc of the total group. These included 219 deaths caused by cancer and 34 by heart and artery disease.
The scientists, led by Dr Laure Schnabel from Paris-Sorbonne University, wrote in the journal 'Jama Internal Medicine': "An increase in ultra-processed foods consumption appears to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk among this adult population.
"Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and to disentangle the various mechanisms by which ultra-processed foods may affect health."
Consumption of ready meals and other forms of ultra-processed food accounted for an average 29pc of total calorie intake, the study found.
It was also associated with youth, poorer education, living alone, lower physical activity and higher body weight.
Some ultra-processed foods contained large amounts of salt, and high sodium intake has been associated with higher rates of cardiovascular deaths and stomach cancer.
Excessive sugar was also linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular fatalities.
In addition ultra-processed foods contained little fibre, which had been shown to reduce mortality risk.
Food additives, often found in ultra-processed foods, may also play a role.