According to the researcher, poor nutrition is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. Serving dishes made with excess salt, fats (especially trans fats), and having too many sugary beverages is dangerous for health. Junk food and poor eating habits, in fact, worsen quality of life by facilitating the onset of many diseases, and can result in higher mortality rates compared to that of smoking, high blood pressure, or any other risk factors. Instead, a balanced diet with healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, can be life-saving.
A phrase coined by the philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, “we are what we eat,” has also been supported by Ashkan Afshin. The risks associated with poor nutrition affect everyone, regardless of age, gender, or social status. Afshin, who carried out a study on obesity in 2017, has also done new research to carefully analyze the effects of food on chronic health problems, in particular heart disease and diabetes. The data showed that unbalanced and nutrient-poor diets are responsible for 10.9 million deaths annually, compared to 8 and 10.4 million for smoking and hypertension, respectively. That is, 22% of deaths in 2017 in the 40 countries under examination, were mainly due to cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer and diabetes.
In addition, by analyzing the emerging results, the researchers extrapolated data regarding the measure of the severity of a disease expressed in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY). In other words, the number of lost years of “healthy” life due to premature mortality due to a certain disease. In this case, poor nutrition was responsible for 255 million years lost to premature death or disability; 16% of all DALYs among adults globally.
From this study, bad habits were found to be responsible for approximately half of deaths from poor nutrition, and 66% of DALYs. The other 50% can be attributed to diets rich in red and/or processed meats, sugary drinks, and trans fats.
According to Afshin, new policies must be put intoplace to promote nutrition based on healthy foods, which can certainly play an important role in the prevention of many diseases. It is thus necessary to review the entire production, transformation, and marketing cycle of “good” food products, as well as promote healthy diets. In fact, a greater consumption of plant proteins, compared to those from animal sources, can bring benefits worldwide. The authors stress that diets rich in animal proteins, and trans fats are the main risk factors for mortality, while diets that contain legumes, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds can serve as protective factors of mortality.
By Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff
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