April 21, 2019

Poor Diet Linked To One in Five Deaths Globally

06 April 2019, 04:54 | Silvia Roy

Uzbekistan has been named as the country with the worst diet in the world More

Uzbekistan has been named as the country with the worst diet in the world More

"In the supermarket we can do comparisons, we can also try to be more aware of what the grains we are eating with our diet are, as well as just pieces of whole fruit, more vegetables and if possible incorporating some nuts and seeds into our diet".

"Poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world", study author Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said in a statement.

Around 10 million of the 11 million diet-related deaths in 2017 were because of cardiovascular disease, the risk of which is increased by both high salt in the diet and insufficient whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. The death count increased to approximately 11 million in 2017, where over 50% of diet-related deaths were because of diets low in fruits and whole grains and high in sodium.

Dr Oyinlola Oyebode, Associate Professor at Warwick Medical School, said: "This high-quality research examines dietary patterns across the globe and linking these to data on death and illness to determine what might be the most important dietary factors in the development of disease in the countries studied".

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On the flip side, consuming too much red meat, processed meat, trans fat, and sugar-sweetened beverages were also among the risk factors.

Lead scientist Dr Ashkan Afshin, from the University of Washington, US, said: "Poor diet is an equal opportunity killer". The U.S ranked 43rd, and China ranked 140th.

The study found people ate only 12 percent of the recommended amount of nuts and seeds - an average intake of 3 grams a day, compared with the recommended 21 grams - and drank more than 10 times the recommended amount of sugary drinks.

The researchers said that the findings show that many existing awareness campaigns have been ineffective and new interventions are needed to rebalance diets worldwide.

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Each of these factors accounted for more than 2% of all deaths globally.

And rather than trying to persuade people to cut down on sugar, salt and fat, which has been "the main focus of of diet policy debate in the past two decades", it would be better to promote healthy options, the authors say.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said "more must be done to reduce the burden of diet-related disease".

"There are of course considerable challenges in shifting populations" diets in this direction, illustrated by the cost of fruits and vegetables being disproportionately prohibitive.

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And while some regions of the world fared better than others, the study authors said nearly all countries are missing the mark when it comes to good nutrition habits.

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