Improvement of diet could potentially prevent one in every five deaths globally, according to a new Global Burden of Disease study published in the Lancet.
The study tracked trends in consumption of 15 dietary factors from 1990 to 2017 in 195 countries and found that, globally, consumption of nearly all healthy foods and nutrients was suboptimal in 2017.
Overall in 2017, an estimated 11 million deaths were attributable to poor diet, up from 8 million in 1990. The figure includes 10 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, 913,000 cancer deaths and almost 339,000 deaths from type 2 diabetes.
High intake of sodium, low intake of whole grains and low intake of fruits were the leading dietary risk factors for death and disability-adjusted life years globally and in many countries. The largest shortfalls in global consumption were seen for foods such as nuts and seeds, milk and whole grains, while sugary drinks, processed meat and sodium were overeaten. The authors noted that across all 15 dietary factors, more deaths were associated with not eating enough healthy foods compared with eating too many unhealthy foods.
The authors say that their findings highlight the urgent need for coordinated global efforts to improve diet.