Unhealthy diet is killing more people than tobacco, blood pressure any other health risk, study finds

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Poor diet is responsible for more deaths globally than tobacco, high blood pressure, or any other health risk, according to a new comprehensive research.

“Poor diet is an equal opportunity killer,” said Dr. Ashkan Afshin, lead author on the study and an assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
“We are what we eat and risks affect people across a range of demographics, including age, gender, and economic status.”

Consuming low amounts of healthy foods, such as plants and whole grains, and too much unhealthy foods, including sweetened beverages, account for one in every five deaths globally.

One hundred and thirty (130) scientists from 40 countries contributed to the analysis, the most comprehensive analysis on the health effects of diet ever conducted.

The study found out that poor diets were responsible for 10.9 million deaths, or 22% of all deaths among adults in 2017, with cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the leading cause, followed by cancers and diabetes. They also resulted in 255 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), which equal the sum of years of life lost and years lived with disability. Poor diet represents 16% of all DALYs among adults globally.

In comparison, tobacco was associated with 8.0 million deaths, and high blood pressure was linked to 10.4 million deaths.

The results of the study were published on Monday in the international medical journal The Lancet.

Available for comment:
Dr. Ashkan Afshin, Assistant Professor of Health Metrics Sciences IHME; [email protected]
Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization; [email protected]
Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard University; [email protected]
Corinna Hawkes, Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London; [email protected]

Media contacts:
IHME: Kelly Bienhoff, +1-206-897-2884 (office); +1-913-302-3817 (mobile); [email protected]
IHME: Dean Owen, +1-206-897-2858 (office); +1-206-434-5630 (mobile); [email protected]
The Lancet: Emily Head +44-207-424-4249 (office); +44-7920-530-997 (mobile); [email protected]

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