In case you needed another reason to maintain a diet of healthy and nutritious foods, a study released recently shows that bad diet choices lead to more deaths worldwide than any other risk factor, including smoking and obesity. To me, this means that as a population we are literally killing ourselves with the food choices we make! That’s scary!
According to the Global Burden of Disease study, the problem is not only that people around the globe are eating too many unhealthy foods; it’s also that people aren’t eating enough nutritious options. In 2017, there were 11 million deaths in 195 countries from health issues attributable to dietary factors (those issues include heart attack and cancer). And, if you’re thinking the numbers are skewed based on third world countries where food options are low, in terms of lowest diet-related death rates, the United States ranked 43rd, below countries like Rwanda and Nigeria.
“This study shows that poor diet is the leading risk factor for deaths in the majority of the countries of the world,” says study author Ashkan Afshin of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Unhealthy diets are “a larger determinant of ill health than either tobacco or high blood pressure,” he says.
In general those with the healthiest diets are in countries that follow the Mediterranean diet, which has higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish. The take away is this: As a planet we don’t eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. And, we consume too many sugary drinks, too much salt and too many processed foods.