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Tim Spector says one type of food linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease – The Mirror

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Health expert Professor Tim Spector says we are being tricked into buying the wrong foods and says the current state of diets in the UK is ‘like passive smoking’. Professor Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, recently told the House of Lords Food, Diet and Obesity Committee: “The UK is really the sick man of Europe because we have the highest percentage of our calories eaten in this poor quality food that makes us overeat.”

Professor Spector was discussing ultra-processed foods after a study published in the British Medical Journal linked high-fat, high-sugar food made in factories to 32 health problems.

Ultra-processed foods are generally low in fibre, vitamins and minerals and are designed to make you want to eat more of them. It is estimated the UK’s diet is now 57% ultra-processed.

Professor Spector said: “I’m old enough to live through the passive smoking debates in epidemiology, where the initial studies were not that clear and the tobacco industry was sort of pushing back and saying “we don’t really understand the exact dose that’s harmful for children”, and “don’t worry about it, it’s all very confusing”.

“And I think this is very much what we’re seeing here.”

Professor Spector said that a number of studies have linked ultra-processed food to diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. He said: “I think it’s fairly clear that you have a health problem – that’s partly due to these foods inducing (people) to eat more because they’re hyper-palatable.”

He said: “Given the evidence we’ve got, it’s very similar to where we were with passive smoking at that time.”

Professor Spector blamed large food companies adding: “They have brilliant food chemists, they get the best people in the business, they recruit them, and they their job is to make food as ultra-palatable as possible by tweaking the amount of fat, the amount of sugar and salt in exactly the right proportions that makes people overeat and their only aim is to make profit.

“Their aim is to keep us eating more of this food because it’s much more profitable to make this kind of food than it is anything else.”

He said: “At the moment, we have hyper-palatable foods that contain all these chemicals, these emulsifiers, these other things bad for your gut microbes that have don’t have health warnings on them and actually have what we call ‘health halos’ – they say ‘low calorie’, ‘low fat’, ‘high in vitamins’.

“And so parents buying their children something from the dairy counter are being totally misled into thinking they’re buying healthy foods. People are actually being misled into buying the wrong foods. And I think that’s something that we should absolutely do something about immediately.”

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