Poor diet ‘big­gest health risk’

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - THE TIMES

One in five deaths is now caused by bad diet, with obe­sity the fastest grow­ing global risk, a com­pre­hen­sive study shows.

Un­healthy eating kills more peo­ple than smok­ing, and un­healthy weight is catch­ing up fast, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­na­tional com­pen­dium of 330 dis­eases in 195 coun­tries.

Huge suc­cesses in fight­ing the in­fec­tions and dis­eases of poverty have seen tra­di­tion­ally Western prob­lems spread, the Global Bur­den of Dis­eases study in The Lancet con­cluded.

Deaths from mal­nu­tri­tion are down by a third and from dirty wa­ter by a quar­ter in the past decade. Fewer than five mil­lion chil­dren died be­fore the age of five, down from 11 mil­lion in 1990.

How­ever, more than 10 mil­lion were killed last year by what they ate, up 11 per cent in a decade, the study found. Smok­ing killed seven mil­lion, up 4 per cent since 2006, while ex­cess weight killed 4.5 mil­lion, up 29 per cent.

Pub­lic Health Eng­land’s John New­ton, who worked on the study, said obe­sity ap­peared to be “a side-ef­fect of de­vel­op­ment” that no coun­try had yet solved.

“There are enor­mous ar­eas of the world where they’re mov­ing away from in­fec­tious dis­eases as the main cause of death and to­wards non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease, par­tic­u­larly di­a­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, which are linked to poor diet and obe­sity,” he said. This was not seen so much in Africa yet, but was a big prob­lem in Asia, eastern Europe and the Mid­dle East.

A lack of fruit and veg­eta­bles is es­ti­mated to be at the root of al­most half the diet-re­lated deaths.

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