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Preservatives, Dietary Elements Identified as Contributors to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes


Evidence points to flavorings and preservatives in processed foods as contributors to the beginnings of obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to a recent review.

Reducing phosphate consumption and subsequent hyperphosphatemia could lead to advancements in the management of type 2 diabetes and its associated complications, according to a review in Cureus. Food flavorings and preservatives were linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well.

The review attempted to explain the probable processes that are relevant to processed food and obesity and how they relate to diabetes. The researchers used Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, PubMed, and ResearchGate to look for the studies for this review. Studies from prior to 2000 or that were written in a language other than English were excluded from this review. Studies without full text were also excluded.

A British study found that eating ultra-processed food regularly was statistically significantly associated with obesity, with British people who ate the most prepackaged food having 1.66 kg/m2 greater body mass index (BMI), 3.56 cm higher waist circumference, and 90% elevated odds of living with obesity. A Korean study found similar results, with 51% higher odds of the presence of obesity (odds ratio, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.14-1.99) and 64% greater odds of central obesity in those who ate processed food for at least 26.8% of their daily calorie intake.

Food additions, such as preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and dyes, are frequently associated with health hazards like diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, glucose intolerance, nervous hyperactivity, and insomnia, the review authors noted. High salt intake has also been found to affect cardiovascular, renal, and central nervous systems adversely.

Phosphorous, which is an essential micronutrient found in dairy, fish, and eggs among other food, can be a cause of cardiac problems with or without compromised renal function if eaten in excess. Elevated levels are associated with left ventricular failure, defective endothelium function, and progression in declined kidney function.

Using inorganic phosphates as a preservative has also been found to have negative effects on the health of those who consume it in excess. Inorganic phosphates have been linked to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart muscle dysfunction, obesity, and carcinomas.

Excessive prepackaged food and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to metabolic syndrome, which presents as disorders such as abdominal or central obesity, chronically elevated blood pressure, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and steatohepatitis. Prepackaged foods were found to increase the incidence of food-related chronic illnesses like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, according to a study cited in the review. These highly flavorful processed foods stimulate the brain’s reward and motivation paths, which raises the likelihood that someone will seek out processed food.

Consumption of mineral phosphate led to its accumulation in body systems, which can cause a dysregulation of hormones that maintain balanced phosphate echelons in otherwise physically fit individuals. Phosphate toxicity was also found to result in chronic kidney diseases and end-stage renal disease and is linked to diabetic nephropathy.

The researchers concluded that dietary elements like food flavorings and preservatives increase the likelihood of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a well-balanced diet and other lifestyle strategies could help address the problem of vascular calcification in patients with type 2 diabetes.


Sinha S, Haque M. Obesity, diabetes mellitus, and vascular impediment as consequences of excess processed food consumption. Cureus. Published online September 4, 2022. doi:10.7759/cureus.28762

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