1 in 5 deaths worldwide linked to unhealthy diet, say study

The world on average consumes more than ten times the recommended amount of sugar-sweetened beverages and 86 per cent more sodium per person than is considered safe

Poor diet causes one in seven deaths in Britain, Lancet finds

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).

The study estimates that one in five deaths globally - equivalent to 11 million deaths - are associated with poor diet, and diet contributes to a range of chronic diseases in people around the world.

"Diet quality matters no matter what weight you are", Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told the BBC about the report.

It found that, in total, one in five deaths worldwide are linked to people having diets that are high in sugar, salt and processed meat.

For example, the world on average consumes more than 10 times the recommended amount of sugar-sweetened beverages, and 86 percent more sodium per person than is considered safe.

130 scientists compared dietary habits to rates of death and disease in 195 countries and found that a bad diet claims more lives to smoking because it can cause heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

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

Cardiovascular disease was a major killer for approximately 10 million out of 11 million food-related deaths.

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Israel saw the lowest rate of diet-related deaths of any country, with just 89 deaths per 100,000.

"It's important both policy makers and the food industry work together to be part of the solution to increase the consumption of not only fruits and vegetables but also whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes".

In January, a consortium of three dozen researchers called for a dramatic shift in the way the world eats.

The global intake of red meat was 18% greater than that considered optimal.

Authors of Thursday's study noted that economic inequality was a factor in poor dietary choices in many countries.

"This study gives us good evidence of what to target to improve diets, and therefore health, at the global and national level", said Oyinlola Oyebode, associate professor at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, England, who was not involved in the research.

Low intake of whole grains - below 125 grammes per day - was the leading dietary risk factor for death and disease in India, the US, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, and Turkey.

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