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How ultra-processed food has changed our minds, bodies, and culture (Rebroadcast)

Sale priced potato chips are displayed at a grocery store in San Anselmo, California.
Sale priced potato chips are displayed at a grocery store in San Anselmo, California.

Sometimes, there’s just a kind of junk food that we just can’t put down.

Maybe it’s salty snacks like Pringles, creamy treats like Twinkies, or even legendary late-night Taco Bell. Their commercials hint at how strong the food’s siren call can be with catchy jingles that say things like “Once you pop, you can’t stop.”

Approximately 73 percent of the U.S. food supply is ultra-processed, according to Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute. These chemically-engineered foods are low-cost and convenient, but our appetite for them can feel insatiable.

These foods have also been linked to a host of health issues, including cancer, heart attacks, and even death. But ultra-processed food has become part of our food culture. What does that mean for our health and our food systems? 

Chris Van Tullekenwent to find that out. He’s an infectious disease doctor and academic who studies food systems at University College London Hospitals. He’s also the author of the new book “Ultra-Processed People: The Science Behind Food That Isn’t Food” 

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Michelle Harven