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BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Ultra-processed food [UPF] consumption has been linked to globally increasing incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases [IBD]. We aimed to investigate the association between UPF consumption and IBD incidence, prevalence, and IBD-relevant outcomes. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional and prospective cohort study in 187 854 individuals included in the national UK Biobank, using 24-h dietary recall questionnaires. Multivariable logistic regression and Cox proportional hazard regression were used to examine the association between UPFs and the prevalence and incidence risk of IBD, respectively. RESULTS: A total of 185 849 participants with a mean age of 56.2 were included, with a mean follow-up of 9.84 years. During follow-up, 841 developed IBD (251 Crohn's disease [CD], and 590 ulcerative colitis [UC]). UPF intake in IBD patients was significantly higher: CD: odds ratio [OR] 1.94 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.52, 2.49, p <0.001); UC: OR 1.39 [95% CI: 1.17, 1.65, p <0.001]. Compared with low consumption, higher UPF consumption was significantly associated with incident CD: hazard ration [HR] 2.00 [95% CI: 1.32, 3.03, p = 0.001], but not UC. We also found a significant association between UPF intake and need of IBD-related surgery: HR 4.06 [95% CI: 1.52, 10.86, p = 0.005]. CONCLUSION: Higher intake of UPFs was associated with higher incidence of CD, but not UC. In individuals with a pre-existing diagnosis of IBD, consumption of UPFs was significantly higher compared with controls, and was associated with an increased need for IBD-related surgery. Further studies are needed to address the impact of UPF intake on disease pathogenesis and outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Crohns Colitis

Publication Date





535 - 552


Inflammatory bowel diseases, ultra-processed food, utrition, Humans, Middle Aged, Crohn Disease, Prospective Studies, Food, Processed, Biological Specimen Banks, Cross-Sectional Studies, Risk Factors, Colitis, Ulcerative, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, United Kingdom