Like many time-strapped Americans, there’s a good chance you combine food shopping with other household needs and purchase groceries from a larger retail store or warehouse club. But researchers at the University of North Carolina caution that while the one-stop shopping may be more convenient, it may also be leading us down an unhealthy path.
A team analyzed more than a decade of data from a mix of urban and rural households in the United States, only to discover that consumers are purchasing and eating more nutrient-deficient packaged foods, which are found in large quantities at big-box stores. Such foods, which accounted for 78% of store-based food spending, were higher in salt, sugar and unhealthy fats than those purchased in regular grocery stores.
Results of the study, published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, point to a potential health concern for U.S. consumers. We know from previous research that a diet high in processed foods has been linked to gut imbalance, weight gain, inflammation, heart disease and more, which is why study authors recommend paying close attention to food labels and making more nutritious choices overall.