The study took place between 2003 and 2016 and researchers assessed participants at least every three years. More than 400 participants developed IBD; 90 had Crohn’s disease and 377 had ulcerative colitis.
Once researchers took other factors into account, they found greater consumption of ultra-processed food was associated with a higher risk of IBD.
Those who ate five or more servings of ultra-processed foods per day had an 82% increased risk of IBD compared to those who consumed less than one serving of those foods. Eating 1-4 servings per day had a 67% increased risk.
Consuming white meat, red meat, dairy, starch, and fruit, vegetables and legumes wasn’t linked to IBD. Consuming sodas, refined sweetened foods, salty snacks and processed meat had links to higher risks of IBD.
“Further studies are needed to identify specific potential contributory factors among processed foods that might be responsible for the observed associations in our study,” researchers concluded.
This isn’t the first time research has shown ultra-processed food’s bodily impact.
In June, researchers found highly processed foods are linked to childhood obesity. A 2020 study showed a link between ultra-processed foods and aging more quickly.