Bad diets kill more people globally than smoking, study finds

It's time to start eating well if you want to live longer!


A study has found that diets high in salt, low in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds are strongly linked to a higher death rates. Poor diets linked to a staggering number of deaths globally (nearly 11 million) – more than deaths linked to tobacco.


Researchers looked at people’s eating habits across 195 countries to estimate how much poor diets contribute to mortality. Their findings? That 11 million people die each year around the world because, at least in part, of certain foods or lack thereof, according to the study.


But the biggest problem is not the junk we eat but the nutritious food we don’t eat, say researchers, calling for a global shift in policy to promote vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes.


Previous research has linked tobacco use to eight million deaths per year worldwide, and high blood pressure to just over 10 million deaths. But it’s not surprising that diet is so critical.


For the new study, nutrition surveys were published to look at typical dietary intakes across 195 countries, in addition to published research on the relationship between various diet factors and disease risks.


For example, to estimate the impact of salty diets, the researchers looked at the evidence on urinary sodium levels and changes in blood pressure – and then estimated the relationship between those blood pressure changes and disease outcomes.


We often talk about the foods that are ‘bad,’ and what you shouldn’t eat. But this study is also about what we are not eating and what you should eat.


Researchers found that generally in real life people do substitution. When they increase the consumption of something, they decrease the consumption of other things.


So rather than trying to cut down on sugar, salt and fat, which has been “the main focus of of diet policy debate in the past two decades, maybe start thinking about the foods you should be including in your day to day diet.


The conclusion? The best evidence supports not 'miracle' foods, but an overall diet high in fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, and fibre-rich whole grains is the best.


Looking for healthy recipes - check out some of Dr Phil Sheldon's healthy meals, snacks and smoothies!

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