Introduction The consumption of the ultra-processed food items has emerged as a concern in public health.
Objective To assess the effect of gender, age and day of the week on consumption of ultra-processed food items among adolescents and adults from southern Brazil.
Methods A cross-sectional study investigated a population-based sample of 234 individuals, aged 11–90 years. Dietary data was obtained by 24-h recall. The food items were aggregated according to the level of processing as minimally (group 1), culinary or industry (group 2), and ultra-processed foods (group 3). The days of the week were categorised in weekend (Saturday and Sunday), beginning (Monday and Tuesday) and middle of the week (Thursday and Friday). The analysis was based on Generalised Estimated Equation (GEE).
Results Women consumed food items on average of 2.71 and men 3.22 times per day (p=0.007). The positive effect of age was observed for all processed foods. The number of food items of group 1 consumed for adolescents was 60% lower than for older individuals. On the other hand, adolescents consumed 40% more ultra-processed foods than older adults (p<0.001). Food items of group 3 were more consumed in the middle of the week (4.86 times per day; p=0.040) and by adolescents.
Conclusion The results show that ultra-processed foods consumed on weekends and by adolescents were an important problem of public health.