Poor nutritional outcomes are responsible for more deaths than smoking

Poor nutritional outcomes are responsible for more deaths than smoking


About 11 million deaths a year are linked to malnutrition around the world.

What leads this? We planet do not eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we consume lots of sugary drinks, lots of salt and lots of processed meat.

As part of a new study published in The Lancet, researchers analyzed the diets of people in 195 countries using survey data, as well as sales data and household spending data. They then assessed the effect of bad diets on the risk of dying from disease, including heart disease, some cancers and diabetes. (They also calculated the number of deaths associated with other risk factors, such as smoking and drug abuse, globally.)

"This study suggests that a bad diet is the major risk factor for mortality in most countries of the world," said study author Ashkan Afshin of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. "Unhealthy diets" are a greater determinant of poor health than tobacco or high blood pressure, he says.

What countries do best when it comes to diet? Israel, France, Spain and Japan were among the countries with the lowest rates of diet-related diseases. The United States ranked 43, and China ranked 140. It should be noted that there are gaps in the data regarding the intake of major foods in some countries, so some estimates may stop.

"In general, countries that follow a diet close to the Mediterranean diet, which contain larger amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and health oils [including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish] are the countries where we see the lowest number of "Dietary-related deaths," says Afshin As we mentioned, the Mediterranean pattern of eating is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and memory decline.
I asked Afshin about the arrangement that surprised him and why. "Mexico is interesting," Afshin told me. The country ranked 57th in the list. On the one hand, people in Mexico consume many tortilla chips containing whole grains, and whole grains are useful. On the other hand, "Mexico has one of the highest consumption levels of sweetened beverages." It is hard to say how the benefits of whole grains can affect the risk of excessive sugar intake, but Afshin says it confirms a problem seen in many countries: the overall pattern of eating can be improved.

Of course, there are obstacles to eating well, including accessibility and affordability. Because Trump and US lawmakers are debating whether people with the ability to have access to public food assistance should be enjoying it, it is clear that many people around the world are struggling to buy healthy foods.

While 800 million people worldwide do not receive enough food, and 1.9 billion people weigh heavily, it is important to remember that hunger and obesity are two forms of malnutrition. And the costs are amazing. "Worldwide, malnutrition costs $ 3.5 trillion a year, with noncommunicable diseases associated with overweight and obesity, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes," said a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Trillion dollars. "

At the global level, these results may serve as a reminder that when it comes to ending hunger and improving health, people need not just eat. They need nutrition. If you fill a diet with canned snacks made from refined carbohydrates and sugary soda, you may get the calories you need, but these calories will put you on the path to illness.

What will happen if everyone around the world starts eating a healthy diet, filling three-quarters of their plates with fruits, vegetables and whole grains? We ran out. Yes that's right. A recent study published in the journal PLOS One by researchers at the University of Guelph found that there would not be enough fruits and vegetables to roam.

"We simply can not all have a healthy diet under the current global farming system," says Ivan Fraser, co-author of the study, director of the Ariel School of Food at the University of Guelph. Fraser says we produce lots of fat, lots of sugar and many starchy products. Food companies and farmers also play a role. "At the global level, we have a mismatch between what we have to deal with and what we produce," Fraser says.

Perhaps this is why the authors of the new Lancet study say their findings point to the need for coordinated global efforts. Improved diets will not be easy: a range of initiatives, including nutrition education, increased access to healthy foods, and rethinking of agricultural production may be needed.


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