Poor diet cause of most global deaths
LONDON — Poor diet is the biggest contributor to early deaths across the world, a study has warned.
Experts said 21 per cent of global deaths can be attributed to diets high in red meat and sugary drinks, and lacking in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.
Eating unhealthily contributes to the most deaths worldwide by triggering ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The top risks associated with the premature deaths of both men and women are high blood pressure, smoking, high body mass index (BMI), and high blood sugar levels, researchers found.
But the greatest cumulative effect on health comes from poor diet, they warned. The team looked at 14 dietary risk factors, including the consumption of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, milk, processed meat, sugary drinks, fibre, calcium, salt, seafood and different types of fat.
Overall, high blood pressure was the number one risk factor associated with global deaths, contributing to 10.4 million deaths. It’s impact on mortality has grown by more than 49 per cent since 1990, and its increasing impact has been more dramatic for men than women.
High blood pressure grew 39.9 per cent for women and 59 per cent for men.
The risk factors examined in the study contributed to a total of 30.8 million deaths in 2013, up by onefifth from 25.1 million deaths in 1990.
“There’s great potential to improve health by avoiding certain risks like smoking and poor diet as well as tackling environmental risks like air pollution,” said Dr Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evalu-
And the risks vary greatly for men and women.
Smoking is a larger problem for males, ranking as the number-two risk and associated with 4.4 million deaths.
For females, smoking is the number-six risk for early death, contributing to 1.4 million deaths.
Similarly, alcohol is a top-10 risk factor for male deaths, but it’s not a leading cause for females.
Children also struggle with different risks than adults. For children under the age of five, child under-nutrition . . . which includes children who are underweight, whose growth is stunted, and who suffer from wasting (having a low weight for their height, usually due to starvation or disease) . . . was the number-one cause of death.
Childhood undernutrition contributed to 1.3 million deaths in 2013, which accounts for 21.1 per cent of total under-five deaths.
Chad, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Niger were the countries with the highest proportion of deaths of children under five due to these risks.
Dr Mohammad Forouzanfar, assistant professor of global health at IMHE and the paper’s lead author, said: “While we have seen a tremendous growth in risk factors that contribute to non-communicable diseases like heart disease, pulmonary (lung) diseases, and diabetes, childhood under-nutrition remains a huge challenge for some countries.”
The study examined which risk factors contribute to illness as well as early death.
Researchers use a measure known as disability-adjusted life years (DALYS), to measure the loss of health.
One DALY equals one lost year of healthy life and is measured by the sum of years of life lost to early death and years lived with disability.
The leading risk factors associated with illness in 2013 were the same as for early deaths: high blood pressure, smoking, and high body mass index.
The researchers said high blood pressure and smoking have moved up in rank since 1990, even though smoking rates have fallen in most countries.
And the overall global data masks tremendous regional variations. In much of the Middle East and Latin America, high body mass index is the number-one risk associated with illness, they said.
In South and South East Asia, household air pollution is a leading risk, and India also grapples with high risks of unsafe water and childhood under-nutrition.
Alcohol is the number-two risk in Russia, and smoking is the number-one risk in many high-income countries, including the UK. The most marked differences are found in sub-saharan Africa, which, unlike other regions, is dominated by a toxic combination of childhood under-nutrition, unsafe water and sanitation, unsafe sex, and alcohol use.
— Daily Mail
High Blood pressure was THE number one risk Factor ASSOCIATED with Global DEATHS In 2013.