Properties of Ultraprocessed Foods That Can Drive Excess Intake

Barbara J. Rolls, Paige M. Cunningham, Hanim E. Diktas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that ultraprocessed foods, particularly as defined by the NOVA system, facilitate overconsumption and may contribute to the development of obesity. Questions remain as to what properties of ultraprocessed foods are driving excess intake. Ultraprocessed foods tend to be high in energy density and low in volume, easy to eat rapidly, and highly palatable. Studies indicate that these properties are likely contributors to the overconsumption of ultraprocessed foods, rather than the processing per se. Indeed, processing can be used to modify food properties such as energy density and texture to help reduce overconsumption. For many people, ultraprocessed foods provide accessible and affordable sources of nutrients and energy when unprocessed foods are scarce. Future studies should focus on understanding how processing can be used to create widely available and affordable nutrient-rich foods that can help consumers manage energy intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition Today
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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