Background & Aims
Industrial foods have been associated with increased risks of several chronic conditions. We investigated the relationship between the degree of food processing and risks of Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort.
Analyses included 413,590 participants (68.6% women; mean baseline age, 51.7 y) from 8 European countries. Dietary data were collected at baseline from validated country-specific dietary questionnaires. Associations between proportions of unprocessed/minimally processed and ultraprocessed food intake and CD and UC risks were estimated using Cox models to obtain hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs. Models were stratified by center, age, and sex, and adjusted for smoking status, body mass index, physical activity, energy intake, educational level, and alcohol consumption.
During a mean follow-up period of 13.2 years, 179 incident cases of CD and 431 incident cases of UC were identified. The risk of CD was lower in people consuming high proportions of unprocessed/minimally processed foods (adjusted HR for the highest vs lowest quartile: 0.57; 95% CI, 0.35–0.93; P trend < .01), particularly fruits and vegetables (adjusted HRs, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.34–0.87 and 0.55; 95% CI, 0.34–0.91, respectively). There was no association between unprocessed/minimally processed food intake and the risk of UC. No association was detected between ultraprocessed food consumption and CD or UC risks.
In the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort, consumption of unprocessed/minimally processed foods was associated with a lower risk of CD. No association between UC risk and food processing was found.