People know that ultra-processed food isn't healthy - but we can't blame customers for picking items up

A mixture of tight budgets, convenient options and poor packaging means that ultra-processed foods are some of the most popular with UK customers

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New research into the impact of ultra-processed food on health has concluded what we could have all predicted - it isn't great for our bodies.

Items such as heavily processed meats, crisps, ready meals and confectionery are among those to increase our likelihood of developing issues of the heart, including heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and angina. However, other items sneaking promoting health benefits also come under this umbrella, including breakfast cereals, pre-packaged wholegrain bread and protein bars.

In today's fast-moving modern world, households across the country are aiming to eat healthier but what hope is there when there is no wider education on this topic, nor any clear packaging? We've all been guilty of picking up the easiest, cheapest option, whether we believe it to be a healthy option or not.

Picking up what you believe to be a healthier option and instead it turning out to be packed with preservatives is like navigating minefield in the supermarket.

Do you need bread for school lunches? The long lasting, pre-packaged option, often needed to fulfil a week's worth of lunches, is packed with preservatives. You want yoghurt but aren't a fan of natural yoghurt? Expect your fruit yoghurt tub to be packed with sweeteners.

The government needs to step in and make it clear to customers what they are buying in order to let them know that these food have the associated risks in the same way that cigarettes have a warning on them.

Not only is the lack of clear communication over what is in our regularly-consumed foods contributing to the popularity of ultra-processed foods in the UK's diet, but the price point is too.

We've all been in the situation where it's time to shop on a shoestring budget - you have a few quid to feed the house on and really the only option to do this is buying longer-lasting items which are the target of BOGOF promotions and price cuts at big supermarket stores like ASDA, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

This is especially true at a time when the cost of living crisis continues to hit families hard. The price of a weekly shop has risen by a whopping 37% in the past two years, with wages and budget not able to keep up with the rapidly rising cost to eat.

Households turn to these mass-produced, cut-rate items in a bid to feed their family within the budget they have - a made-from-scratch meal filled with vegetables and meat just doesn't have the same appeal when you can feed for family for a week - breakfast, lunch and dinner - with ultra-processed items at the same cost as high quality ingredients for only a few meals.

These items are also, more often than not, more convenient for households, especially those with kids.

For those working full time and going home to feed a family, the thought of whacking something in the oven and having it on the plate in 20 minutes is much more appealing than making something from scratch without the guarantee that the little ones will even eat it.

Even for those without children, what is the accessibility like to things such as fresh bread versus pre-packaged bread? And what are the odds the loaf sees the end of the week before going mouldy and stale if you haven't eaten it within the first two days?

The entire culture around the way in which we shop and eat needs to change, but the blame for the popularity in unhealthy food shouldn't lie at the door of customers - there needs to be wider change within the industry.