burgers, diet, unhealthy food

Image credit: Flickr/Marco Verch

Study finds that one in five deaths are caused by poor diets

A poor diet is more deadly than smoking and high blood pressure. A recent study shows that what we aren’t eating is killing us.

burgers, diet, unhealthy food

Image credit: Flickr/Marco Verch

According to the latest study by The Lancet, 11 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to poor dietary habits. This tops smoking and high blood pressure as yearly killers.

“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure,”

Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The study found that it isn’t what we are eating that is impacting our health but rather, it is what we are not adding to our daily diets.

An apple a day keeps you from deaths door

The study identified 15 risk factors and their impact on death and disability. The effects of the consumption of high risk foods such as red meat, trans fatty acids, sugar and salt were compared with the effects of a diet low in many healthy foods.

According to the study, there are 3 leading dietary risk factors for deaths.

  1. Eating too much salt.
  2. Not eating enough wholegrains.
  3. Not eating enough fruit.

Other major factors were not eating enough nuts, seeds, vegetables, omega-3 from seafood and fibre.

Cardiovascular disease accounted for 10 million out of the 11 million diet-related deaths. This explains why salt is such a problem. Too much salt raises blood pressure and that in turn raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cancer was responsible for 913,000 deaths, and Type 2 diabetes accounted for 339,000 deaths. In addition, 66% of disabilities in 2017 from a range of chronic diseases were due to those three factors.

Considering this is a study of diet-related deaths it interesting that obesity come in at sixth on the list of global disease risks.

Which countries are eating well?

Mediterranean countries have some of the lowest numbers of diet-related deaths in the world whilst  South East, Southern and Central Asia have the highest.

Israel had the lowest number, followed by France, Spain, Japan and Andorra, a tiny principality between France and Spain.

Uzbekistan had the highest number of diet-related deaths, followed by Afghanistan, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. 

Eat your veggies

Easier said than done.

Fresh fruit and vegetables would take up a large proportion of income for poorer households. And lets not even talk about adding almonds and cashews to thier diets.

So whilst we have an answer and a solution to the problem, we need to be able to implement it. Unfortunately, unhealthy food is more affordable and goes a longer way than the organic, local, free range healthy alternatives.