The study, published on April 3 in the British magazine The Lancet, concluded that one fifth of deaths around the world are associated with poor nutrition (ie, diets that do not include enough fresh vegetables, seeds and nuts but are rich in sugar, salt and trans -masnoćama).
Researchers said that in 2017, this was the cause of eleven million deaths that could be avoided. According to research findings, most of them, approximately ten million, were caused by cardiovascular disease. The most common causes of death associated with eating were cancer, with 913,000 deaths and Type 2 diabetes, which took 339,000 lives.
"These figures are really alarming," said Francesco Branca, the world's leading nutritionist, who was not involved in the study. "This should be a call to awakening for all."
The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, included information on eating habits between 1990 and 2017 and followed the consumption of fifteen categories of food, including milk, processed meat, seafood, sodium and fiber.
Researchers have analyzed data from 195 countries and found that Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan and Marshal Islands have the highest share of fatalities associated with eating habits while France, Spain and Peru have some of the lowest rates. The United States was in 43rd place, China was among the worst countries, taking 140th place.
The study revealed a tenfold difference between the countries with the highest and lowest rate of mortality associated with food. For example, Uzbekistan had 892 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 89 in Israel.
Rather than intimidating people to reduce fat and sugar intake, associated with disease and premature death, the authors have found that adding healthy foods worldwide is the most effective way to reduce mortality indices.
This is because the difference between the amount of nutrition that people need to eat but not eaten is greater than that between the levels of harmful things that are usually put in their mouth, but should not, according to Ashkan Afshin, an epidemiologist from the University of Washington who is was the main author of the study. For example, he noticed that the average total intake of red meat was 27 grams a day, which is slightly above the recommended daily intake of 23 grams. But when it comes to eating healthy nuts and seeds, most people eat an average of 3 grams, much less than 21 grams considered optimal.
The only exception was excessive salt consumption which, according to the research, was very related to disease and death.
"In my opinion, this study confirms that it is time to change the conversation and policy level and to the general public," said Afshin.
He and other experts say that the results indicated the importance of national policies to promote the availability of fruits and vegetables, especially in low-income countries where fresh agricultural products may be more expensive than processed foods. According to experts, large food companies must be under pressure to offer healthful products and encourage physicians to talk about the importance of good nutrition with their patients.
"We do not focus solely on the things we have to eliminate from our diet because, to be honest, we have been trying for a long time," said Nita Gandhi Forouhi, an epidemiologist from Cambridge University. commentary that follows the study.
Not everyone agrees with the recommendations of the study. Arun Gupta, a pediatrician and nutritionist in India, commented that the authors should emphasize the role that important food businesses play in expanding unhealthy foods. "I'm afraid it will eliminate the pressure on the industry, who will use the report to say," We do nothing bad, "he said.
The study has certain shortcomings. The authors noted that there were some significant gaps in information related to the diet of the poorest countries and that some of the deaths could be attributed to more than one food factor, leading to an overestimation of the burden of diseases attributable to a diet
Similarly, nutrition and health experts who read the report said their key findings were ineffective. "It unites evidence that our diet kills us," said Corinna Hawkes, head of the Food Policy Center in London.
Forouhi, a Cambridge epidemiologist, says he hopes that the national classification of mortality caused by food will lead to at least some countries reacting to action, especially those without national nutrition studies. "Perhaps the exposure of their names and embarrassment will encourage some countries at the bottom of the list to make more efforts," he said. "At least I can learn from the countries that are in the first places." (Source: The New York Times)