With Americans stuck at home, snack food has become a valuable commodity for the pandemic stressed consumer. North American sales of savory snacks like chips, popcorn, and pretzels climbed to $56.9 billion in 2020. In stressful times, people turn to snacking for comfort and Covid-19 has transformed kitchens across the U.S. into giant vending machines. So, has Covid-19 put an end to the shift to healthier snacks?
From a The Guardian online article (Feb 12, 2020):
What characterizes ultra-processed foods is that they are so altered that it can be hard to recognize the underlying ingredients. These are concoctions of concoctions, engineered from ingredients that are already highly refined, such as cheap vegetable oils, flours, whey proteins and sugars, which are then whipped up into something more appetizing with the help of industrial additives such as emulsifiers.
From a MedPage Today online article (March 7, 2020):
The top ultra-processed foods by calorie intake were breads, beverages, cakes, cookies and pies, salty snacks, frozen and shelf-stable dishes, pizza, and breakfast cereals.
Altogether, ultra-processed foods accounted for 58% of all calories in the U.S. diet and nearly 90% of all added sugars.
They divided foods into four categories:
- Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: Fresh, dry, or frozen fruits or vegetables, grains, legumes, meat, fish, and milk
- Processed culinary ingredients: Table sugar, oils, fats, salt, and other substances extracted from foods or from nature and used in kitchens to make culinary preparations
- Processed foods: Foods manufactured with the addition of salt, sugar, or other substances of culinary use to unprocessed or minimally-processed foods, such as canned food, simple breads, and cheese
- Ultra-processed foods: Formulations of several ingredients that — besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats — include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additives used to imitate sensory qualities of unprocessed or minimally-processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product
From a Newcastle University news release:
“When fat cannot be safely stored under the skin, it is then stored inside the liver, and over-spills to the rest of the body including the pancreas. This ‘clogs up’ the pancreas, switching off the genes which direct how insulin should effectively be produced, and this causes Type 2 diabetes.”
This latest paper builds on previous Newcastle studies supported by Diabetes UK showing exactly why Type 2 diabetes can be reversed back to normal glucose control. Those studies led to the large DiRECT trial which showed that Primary Care staff can achieve remission of Type 2 diabetes by using a low calorie diet with support to maintain the weight loss.
A quarter of participants achieved a staggering 15 kg or more weight loss, and of these, almost nine out of 10 people put their Type 2 diabetes into remission. After two years, more than one third of the group had been free of diabetes and off all diabetes medication for at least two years.
In 2020, this approach to management of short duration Type 2 diabetes is to be piloted in the NHS in up to 5,000 people across England, and a similar programme is being rolled out in Scotland.