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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #409350

Research Project: Dietary and Physical Activity Guidance for Weight Loss and Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Ultraprocessed foods and the american dietary guidelines

item Hess, Julie

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2023
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The research conducted within the Hess Lab focuses on identifying and evaluating strategies to help Americans meet recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The purpose of this presentation was to discuss DGA recommendations, their importance in federal feeding programs, their scientific background, and the results of a recent study conducted to see whether it is possible to develop a healthy dietary pattern that includes mostly “ultra-processed” foods. Ultra-processed foods and their impact on health is one of the topics that the 2025-2030 DGA Scientific Advisory Committee will be exploring. However, there is not a clear definition for what an “ultra-processed food” is. A system called “NOVA” (not an acronym) is widely used to categorize foods by their level of processing on a scale from 1 to 4, where “1” means a food is unprocessed/minimally processed and “4” indicates an “ultra-processed” food. Yet several nutrient-dense foods like sweetened yogurt and whole grain breads are considered “ultra-processed” on the NOVA scale. We were able to create a 7-day menu that aligns with the DGA, includes 91% of its energy (kcal) from “ultra-processed” foods, has a high diet quality score (86 out of 100), and provides adequate amounts of most nutrients. Healthy diets can include most of their energy from ultra-processed foods according to NOVA.