Processed Food Intake, Metabolomics, and Adiposity

Project: Research project

Project Details


Processed packaged and convenience foods, sugar-sweetened and diet beverages, ready-to-eat foods, deli foods, and foods from coffee houses, street vendors, and fast food sit-down type restaurants now characterize about 58% of total energy intake in US adults. The degree of processing ranges from unprocessed/ minimally processed to ultra-processed foods; ultra-processed foods contributing to the diet excessive amounts of added sugar, sodium, fat, and/or flavoring additives, but inadequate fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Obesity is a suspected consequence of these eating behaviors. Three of four cross-sectional studies and one prospective study reported greater ultra-processed food intake among obese adults compared to non-obese; but results for cardiometabolic risk factors were inconsistent. Better understanding of the role of processed food intake in development of cardiometabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes (T2D) requires well characterized, longitudinal data for diet, lifestyle, and clinical outcomes as well as further detailed and repeated measures of diet assessment. This preferably involves objective measures including targeted and untargeted metabolomics. Several studies have linked metabolomics profiles to dietary intake, obesity, and T2D, but no studies have examined metabolomics profiles linked to ultra-processed food intake relative to adiposity, cardiometabolic risk factors, and T2D. Also, to our knowledge, no studies have compared metabolomics markers at two time points – about 20 years apart –thereby providing an unprecedented opportunity to study the impact of long-term processed food intake on metabolomics and development of obesity, cardiometabolic risk, and T2D at younger and older ages. We propose to conduct an ancillary study in the parent Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study year 35 (Y35) examination. We will assess dietary intake by CARDIA Diet History, measure adipose tissue depots by CT scan, and measure plasma metabolomics markers in 3,270 African American (AA) and white men and women.
Effective start/end date8/1/206/30/24


  • University of Minnesota (P008292501-AMD2 // 5R01HL150053-03)
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (P008292501-AMD2 // 5R01HL150053-03)


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