People who have four daily servings of ultra-processed foods such as candy, soft drinks or pizza are increasing their risk of early death by 62 per cent, according to a new study from Spain.

The findings, which were published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, also found that for every additional serving of ultra-processed food a person consumes beyond the four, the risk of death shoots up by 18 per cent.

Ultra-processed foods are distinct and worse for your health than processed foods – common dietary staples such as milk, bacon, simple bread, cheese, tofu and beer.

According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation, common ultra-processed foods include soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice cream, sugary cereals, packaged soups, muffins, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, cakes and fries.

Between 1999 and 2014, researchers for the study checked in with nearly 20,000 participants between the ages of 20 and 91 every two years.

Researchers noticed that participants who ate the most ultra-processed foods had a higher body mass index compared to those who rarely ate them.

The study acknowledged that people might choose to eat ultra-processed foods because they tend to be extremely tasty, durable and convenient.

Over the past two decades, people from around the world have been consuming more of these types of foods. Other studies have suggested that this increase may have led to higher global rates of cancer, obesity and hypertension.

Up to now, few other studies have described the detrimental effects of high consumption of highly processed foods.

The authors suggest people’s diets could be improved if people cut back on ultra-processed foods.