A poor diet has been linked to one in five deaths worldwide, according to a recent study. The amount is equivalent to 11 million deaths per year.
That number makes unhealthy eating habits more of a cause of death than two factors such as tobacco and high blood pressure. Reported by CBS News page, unhealthy diet, for example, consume lots of red meat, processed meat, and sweetened drinks, but low in fruit and vegetable intake.
“The overall diet has caused more deaths than other risk factors globally,” explained the study author Ashkan Afshin, assistant professor of Health Metrics at the University of Washington.
The study, published in The Lancet journal, tracks trends in consumption of 15 food elements from 1990 to 2017 in 195 countries. These trends include low consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, milk, fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, seafood and polyunsaturated fats.
The analysis found that around 11 million deaths were caused by an unhealthy diet or diet in 2017. That was associated with 10 million deaths from heart disease, 913 thousand deaths from obesity-related cancers, and nearly 339 thousand deaths from type 2 diabetes.
High consumption of sodium and low fruits and grains accounted for more than half of dietary deaths worldwide. Of the 195 countries studied, Israel has the lowest mortality rates related to diet and Uzbekistan, while the United States ranks 43rd.
The researchers found more causes of death were not eating enough healthy food than eating too much unhealthy food. Researchers say don’t just focus on the message that people should avoid unhealthy foods such as processed meat and sweet drinks.
Conversely, the ideal scenario should instead focus on increasing healthy intake rather than unhealthy food. “It must be the focus of public health interventions,” explained the researcher.