Poor diet ‘biggest health risk’
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.