Low fiber, high salt diets responsible for one in five deaths worldwide

Leslie Hanson
April 6, 2019

Diets high in sodium, and low in whole grains and fruits are responsible for more than half of these fatalities.

'We find that diet is one of the dominant drivers of health around the world, it's really quite profound, ' Professor Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told the BBC.

Of the 195 countries included in the study, Israel has the lowest rate of diet-related deaths while Uzbekistan has the highest. This, the researchers explained, are the collective number of years people spent living with disabilities directly linked to poor diets and the number of years lost due to early deaths associated with eating poorly. Other risky dietary habits include high red meat consumption, eating large amounts of processed meats, trans fatty acids, and sugary drinks.

Research carried out by Dr Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington in the USA has found that Israel has the world's healthiest diet, or to be more precise, the world's least unhealthy diet.

The researchers said that the countries that did well generally have diets close to the Mediterranean diet, which has higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils. The United States ranked 43rd, Britain 23rd, China 140th and India 118th.

This is because there is a bigger gap between how much healthy food people should eat and what they actually do, than how much unhealthy food people eat and the amount they should consume. "'Low intake of healthy foods and high intake of unhealthy foods is the leading cause of mortality, globally and in many countries"..."

A new study found that people in 195 countries are not eating enough good foods and that may cause more deaths than smoking tobacco.

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

Dr Nita Forouhi, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, who was not involved in the study, said it provides evidence to shift the focus from an emphasis on dietary restriction to promoting healthy food components in a global context.

The global diet included 16 percent of the recommended amount of milk (71g average intake per day, compared with 435g) and about a quarter (23 percent) of the recommended amount of whole grains (29g compared with 125g). "For instance, fruits and vegetables should make up 80 percent of your diet".

Which countries do best when it comes to diet?

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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