Ultra-Processed People, Chris van Tulleken


I think this is the most important book on food and health I’ve read in a decade.

Better still, it’s a great read - so much non fiction I have to read for work is mis-sold as accessible when it’s really dry and niche, or so so so inexplicably long that usually I end up listening to them. But Ultra-Processed people is brilliant and entertaining and I’m really glad to have read it (I find audio books very useful to ‘get through’ stuff, and love memoirs narrated by the author, but ultimately prefer the act of reading - unless turgid nonsense as mentioned above). If Operation Ouch is on most days in your house as it is in ours, you’ll recognise Dr Chris van Tulleken from his gross medical adventures with his twin Dr Xand.

Less entertaining is the subject matter 😩 It’s sad and terrifying how quickly we’ve turned into vessels for weird chemical dumps - UPF. We literally have no idea what effect all the strange ingredients are having on our health, which is what Dr Chris tackles. Ultra processed food is any ingredient you see on a packet that you wouldn’t have in your own kitchen, so it’s not just foods we all think of as ‘unhealthy’ but loads of normal things like any supermarket bread items etc etc etc. And it’s not about putting in a bit more effort to make things from scratch, far too many people cannot access real food both physically and financially.

Dr Chris has an interesting argument that we can’t blame big food - they are beholden to their shareholders - so it really is the responsibility of politicians and public health/doctors to tackle. I get the argument, and he is v clear and forthright on how corrupt the relationship between our politicians and big food is, but I also would like to hope for some change - eg maybe we should not have a world where companies only respond to profits regardless of how many people it kills #justsayin

If you want a holiday read other than doom scrolling and don’t read fiction, get this. It will change your life, even if it doesn’t make you give up Coco Pops (it’s not at all preachy either, btw).

I really really wanted to be able to pass this book on to others and as it’s half price (£12) at Amazon, that made it easier to do so. Get in touch if you can’t access a copy and would like to borrow one.