Published: Sun, April 07, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

A bad diet is worse for you than smoking, study finds

A bad diet is worse for you than smoking, study finds

The study estimates that one in five deaths globally - equivalent to 11 million deaths - are associated with poor diet, and diet contributes to a range of chronic diseases in people around the world.

"While historically the conversation around diet and nutrition has been focused on a high intake of unhealthy foods, mainly salt, sugar and fats and reducing their consumption, our study shows that in many countries, the main problem is low intake of healthy foods", Afshin said. The trends in consumption of 15 dietary factors were tracked in roughly 195 countries from 1990 to 2017 during the study.

But as cuisine and culinary attiudes vary across the world, different countries have different rates of diet related deaths.

The study found that the diets most closely linked to death had a significant lack of whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and omega-3 fatty acids.

The study found that of the 11 million diet-related deaths in 2017, 10 million were from cardiovascular diseases, 913,000 from cancer and 339,000 from type 2 diabetes. Instead, they say the best way to cut down on those deaths is to push the foods people should be eating more of, including nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. Diets that contained large amounts of red meat, processed foods and sweetened drinks were also found to be the worst.

Poor diet also caused a huge burden of disability, the researchers reported in The Lancet journal.

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Research carried out by Dr Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington in the U.S. has found that Israel has the world's healthiest diet, or to be more precise, the world's least unhealthy diet. "'Low intake of healthy foods and high intake of unhealthy foods is the leading cause of mortality, globally and in many countries"..."

USA co-author Professor Walter Willett, from Harvard University, said the findings supported recent research on heart and artery disease that advocated replacing meat with plant protein.

It is important to note that both obesity and hunger are forms of malnutrition.

The findings highlight the importance of a healthy diet in preventing illnesses and death.

Dr Anna Diaz Font, from the World Cancer Resarch Fund, said the study's findings are important because they demonstrate the major role that diet plays in the health of individuals and populations.

She said the UK's challenge to the food industry to reduce sugar from everyday foods was "a clear step in the right direction", adding "we want to see that ambition from other countries".

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