89% of Foods From Major Companies Judged to Be Unhealthy

89% of Foods From Major Companies Judged to Be Unhealthy

Almost nine-tenths of the processed foods and drinks we consume, including those produced and sold by giant companies like PepsiCo, Mars Inc., and Mondelēz International (makers of Oreo, Ritz, Chips Ahoy!, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, etc.), have been judged to be unhealthy by a massive 2023 study.

We all know that such items usually aren’t particularly good for us, especially if we consume them in excess. That’s what author Michael Pollan was getting at when he wrote, in his 2008 book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” “When you…eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, ‘What are those things doing there?’”

What they’re doing there is overwhelmingly no good, according to the study, published in Springer Nature’s transdisciplinary online journal Globalization and Health.

Conducted by a group of nine researchers from institutions including Oxford University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the George Institute for Global Health, and UNICEF — the study assessed some 35,550 processed products sold under 1,294 different brand names by the top 20 global food and beverage companies from seven countries (Australia, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S.). It found that an astonishing 89% of them would be considered unhealthy according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 Europe Nutrient Profile Model.

The model was developed to help determine whether such products were healthy enough to be advertised to children, though its implications should apply to everyone. Factors including saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, and salt were considered in the classification. (Here’s what people should know about calories, nutrition, and energy balance.)

The results of the study show that for every $10 spent on brands from the 20 companies considered, only $1.10 was spent on products healthy enough to make the cut.

Among the other companies whose products were analyzed were Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Keurig Dr Pepper, Kraft Heinz, and Nestlé.

The WHO model automatically considers all confectionery, sweet bakery products, ice creams, and energy drinks and juices to be unhealthy, which accounts for the high percentage of items judged unacceptable. Only two categories registered above 50% healthy on the scale: Bread products at 51%, and fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables at 100%.

“The results presented in this study,” write its authors, “highlight the reliance the leading food and beverage companies have on sales of unhealthy products that are contributing to diet-related disease globally.” (Click here for a list of 20 foods and drinks you only think are healthy.)

To top