The Majority of Food We Eat is Surprisingly Addictive and Deadly

How to know if you might be a junkie, plus small steps you can take to promote a healthier and longer life

Robert Roy Britt
Wise & Well
Published in
7 min readFeb 1, 2023

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Cereal marketed to kids has, on average, 40% more sugar than cereal marketed to adults. In either case, this stuff barely qualifies as food. Photos by the author

Ultra-processed food, aka highly processed or junk food, now accounts for more than half of all calories consumed in the United States and the U.K., fueling soaring rates of obesity in adults and children and increasing the risk of physical disease, dementia and early death. But we just can’t get enough of this sticky sweet, salty, fatty, greasy, heavenly awful stuff.

In the past two decades, the proportion of calories from ultra-processed food consumed by U.S. kids grew from 61% to 67%. Rates exceed 50% and are increasing among U.S. adults, too, and are also high and on the rise in other industrialized countries.

It’s not entirely our fault.

Highly processed foods and drinks include everything from breakfast cereal, packaged muffins and flavored yogurt to potato chips, candy, soda, canned soup, instant noodles, pepperoni, boxed and frozen ready-to-eat dinners and, well, grocery store aisles are packed with this crap.

Here’s the thing: Junk food is not only ubiquitous and heavily marketed, but it’s designed by manufacturers to trigger a temporary emotional…

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Robert Roy Britt
Wise & Well

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB