An entrepreneur who’s struggled with his weight for decades is waging war on "ultra-processed food", which he believes is to blame for rising obesity levels.

Murray Dare, a father of two from Dereham, created his app Reduce My UPF (ultra-processed food) after years of trying and failing to lose weight on “fad diets”. 

He said the eureka moment came when he gained weight after a month of eating a vegan diet.

Eastern Daily Press: Murray Dare launched app Reduce My UPF to help people see what they're eatingMurray Dare launched app Reduce My UPF to help people see what they're eating (Image: REDUCE MY UPF)

He said: “The problem was that I'd swapped meat out for fake meat alternatives like veggie sausages, and dairy milk for almond milk, which are incredibly processed." 

Mr Dare said this experience led him to believe cutting out "ultra-processed food" could be the key to weight loss.

He said: “That’s when it clicked and I shifted my focus onto cutting out 'ultra-processed foods'.

“I lost five kilos within a month.”

READ MORE: Some ultra-processed foods should be labelled ‘addictive’, scientists suggest

Inspired by his own experience, the entrepreneur said he wanted to empower people to understand more about what is in their food and how they are made.

Reduce My UPF lets users scan products to view detailed nutritional information, and suggests "less-processed" alternatives.

They can also take the free quiz for an estimate on how much processed food they consume in an average day and get tips on bringing the amount down.

Mr Dare said he hoped the approach would help others become more aware of what they are eating. 

He added: "I'm looking to change the relationship people have with food.

"Diet can have a massive impact on people's lives, and I think prevention is better than the cure when it comes to food-related sickness."

What is Ultra-processed food?

Despite gaining more attention in recent years, there's no universally agreed definition of "ultra-processed".

The term comes from the NOVA food classification system, which was developed by researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

They describe it as foods which "typically have five or more ingredients and include many additives that are not typically used in home cooking, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial flavours".

And while more research is needed, a French study from 2018 concluded that "a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular, coronary heart, and cerebrovascular diseases."

The British Heart Foundation backs these claims, but added: "Currently, it’s hard to know whether it is something within the foods that is the issue or whether eating a diet high in these foods suggests an overall lifestyle that is linked to poorer health.

"However, given the high salt, sugar, and saturated fat content of most of these foods, cutting down does seem sensible."