Beware of this USELESS food classification system

I often write about the dangers that ultra-processed foods (UPFs) pose to our health.

Research shows a diet high in UPFs leads straight to obesity, diabetes, and more. Not to mention, these Frankenfoods raise death risk with virtually every bite.

So, avoiding them like the plague should come as a no brainer. (At least, in my opinion.)

But now, “experts” are in a heated debate over the “usefulness” of the NOVA system, which divides foods into categories based on how much they have been processed.

(Insert “hand to forehead” emoji here.)

Let me explain…

A flawed system

The NOVA system classifies:

  • Produce (strawberries) or grains (steel-cut oats) as “fresh or minimally processed”
  • Olive or macadamia nut oil as “processed culinary ingredients”
  • Cheeses as “processed foods”

Furthermore, they define UPFs as “industrial formulations made by deconstructing natural food into its chemical constituents, modifying them and recombining them with additives into products liable to displace all other NOVA food groups.”

Does that sound like something you would ever want to eat?  Absolutely not! To which I ask, what is there left to debate?

If “experts” want to use this definition to help them classify and label “food,” then we have a bigger threat on our hands.

Just look at the detrimental effects of UPFs on humans all around the world…

Disaster across the globe

U.S. consumers get over 55 percent of their daily caloric intake from UPFs. In Canada, that percentage hovers around 48. And in Mexico and France, 30 percent.

Those percentages are frightening. But if you look at the whole picture, there’s an even bigger threat on the horizon…

Is Big Food trying to replace any and all consumption of unprocessed, whole foods?

After all, UPFs are specifically designed to be “hyperpalatable.” That is, when specific components—namely, fat, salt, sugar, and carbs—are combined in a way to make it unnaturally tasty… and addictive.

And, well, take a look at what they’re doing to younger generations: A study found a higher caloric intake of UPFs led to poorer locomotor skills (crawling, walking, running, hopping, climbing, and more) among children (ages 3 to 5), and decreased cardiovascular fitness among teenagers (12 to 15).

That’s why I say: Let’s throw the NOVA system aside.

Who cares that the definition of UPFs makes it “too difficult” to categorize the slew of foods being overstocked on our grocery store shelves…

Let’s get those foods OFF THE SHELVES and stop succumbing ourselves to a lifetime of obesity and chronic disease!

Until these very real negative health effects of UPFs are made into some sort of real public health awareness—like what was done with cigarettes and tobacco—we are doomed to fail. And we’re subjecting generation after generation to sickness.

Long story short: Pay no mind to the NOVA system. Stay away from junk food. And stick to fresh, unprocessed, whole food instead—like grass-fed and -finished meat, wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh produce, and nuts.

Until next time,
Dr. Fred


“Is a Label for Ultra-processed Foods Useful?” Medscape, 06/17/2022. (