Unhealthy Dieting Plans
Bad diets are shortening lives worldwide — killing more people globally than either smoking or high blood pressure, a large, new research suggests.
The study, of nearly 200 countries, linked poor diet quality to nearly 11 million deaths globally in 2017. That translated to 22 percent of deaths among all adults that year.
Previous research has linked tobacco use to 8 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, said lead researcher Dr. Ashkan Afshin, of the University of Washington in Seattle.
Poor nutrition helps drive many health conditions, from high blood pressure to type 2 diabetes, he noted.
And it’s not just a matter of people eating too much junk food, which is common in wealthy nations like the United States.
“We often talk about the foods that are ‘bad,’ and what you shouldn’t eat,” Afshin said. “But this is also about what you should eat.”
The analysis pointed to some eating habits with particularly strong links to higher death rates: diets high in sodium, and those low in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds.
Basically, Afshin said, it all supports a common refrain when it comes to diet advice: Eat fewer processed foods and more “whole” plant-based foods.
That is the bottom line, agreed Dr. Andrew Freeman, who directs cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.
“People are missing a lot from their diets,” he said. “If you include more whole, plant-based foods, that will push out some of the bad things.”
Freeman, who was not involved in the study, recently headed a research review examining some diet “hypes” — certain foods touted as having heart benefits.
The conclusion? The best evidence supports not miracle foods, but an overall diet high in fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, and fiber-rich whole grains.