Hundred of deaths in India caused by poor diet: Lancet study

Hundred of deaths in India caused by poor diet: Lancet study

"This study affirms what many have thought for several years - that poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world", said Christopher Murray, Director at the University of Washington in the US.

A report in the BBC on the study noted the finding that some 10 million of the 11 million deaths each year attributed to diet were from cardiovascular diseases, or diseases caused by the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels, often in or near the heart or brain.

They found that in 2017 poor diet was responsible for 11 million deaths, or 22% of the total recorded.

Lead scientist Dr Ashkan Afshin, from the University of Washington, US, said: "Poor diet is an equal opportunity killer".

At the other end of the spectrum, Uzbekistan, Papua New Guinea, and Afghanistan were found to have the most diet-related deaths. The trends in consumption of 15 dietary factors were tracked in roughly 195 countries from 1990 to 2017 during the study. But the study shows the leading risk factors to health are diets high in salt and low in whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables. The UK ranked 23rd (127 deaths per 100,000), and the USA ranked 43rd (171 deaths per 100,000) after Rwanda and Nigeria (41st and 42nd). Improving diets won't be easy: A range of initiatives may be needed, including nutrition education and increased access to healthy foods, as well as rethinking agricultural production.

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.

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Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said "more must be done to reduce the burden of diet-related disease". Each of these factors accounted for more than two per cent of all deaths around the world.

Consuming not enough fruit was found to have contributed to the death of 2 million people, while a diet of too little whole grains contributed to the death of 3 million lives.

The researchers say it may better for health authorities to try to increase people's intake of these foods rather than to focus on campaigns to reduce the intake of sugar and fat.

The global diet also included less than a quarter of the recommended amount of whole grains - at 29 g average intake a day compared with the recommended 125 g - and nearly double the recommended amount of processed meat - at around 4 g average intake per day compared with the 2 g recommended.

So what counts as a good diet?

"There are of course considerable challenges in shifting populations" diets in this direction, illustrated by the cost of fruits and vegetables being disproportionately prohibitive.

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