Diets including "ultra-processed" ready-to-eat meals such as chicken nuggets, instant noodle soup and preserved meat products can increase the risk of early mortality, according to research.
Scientists in France who studied more than 44,500 men and women aged 45 and older discovered a strong link between bad food and mortality.
Every 10th increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 14th greater risk of death from any cause.
During the follow-up, researchers recorded 602 deaths – 1.4% of the total group. These include 219 deaths caused by cancer and 34 by heart and artery disease.
The scientists, led by Dr. Laure Schnabel from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, wrote in the journal Jama Internal Medicine & # 39 ;: "An increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods seems to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk in this adult population.
"Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and to unravel the various mechanisms by which ultra-processed food can affect health."
Consumption of prepared meals and other forms of ultra-processed food accounted for an average 29pc of total caloric intake, the study found.
It was also accompanied by youth, poorer upbringing, only living, less physical exercise and a higher body weight.
Some ultra-processed foods contain large amounts of salt, and high sodium intake was associated with higher percentages of cardiovascular death and gastric cancer.
Excessive sugar was also linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular deaths.
In addition, ultra-processed food contains few fibers, which have been shown to reduce the mortality risk.
Food additives, often found in ultra-processed food, can also play a role.