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Unhealthy eating causes more deaths than smoking
An unhealthy diet harms health and leads to a shortened life expectancy. Unfortunately, most people do not eat properly, they use too much salt and sugar and too little whole grain, fruit and nuts. Researchers have now found that an unhealthy diet costs the lives of around eleven million people a year worldwide.
The University of Washington's latest investigation found that unhealthy diets cause around eleven million deaths each year. The results of the study were published in the English language medical journal "The Lancet".
Eleven million dead just from our diet?
There are often problems with nutrition because we simply do not eat enough fruits, whole grains and nuts, but we consume far too much salt. The factors of an unhealthy diet have long been known. A new study has now attempted to calculate how much human life such a diet demands. The researchers were able to determine that an unhealthy diet means that eleven million people worldwide experience preventable premature death each year. This even exceeds the death toll from smoking. At least that is what the headlines on this topic say. The researchers are somewhat more careful with their statements. In their opinion, the results only show a possible influence of suboptimal nutrition on deaths and illnesses. It is often difficult to make a statement about the specific cause of death and to attribute death exclusively to nutrition.
Many influences have an impact on life expectancy
Observational studies used data to determine what was healthy and what was not. For example, studies have shown that Spaniards consume more olive oil and sea fish than people from China do. In addition, Spaniards also have an increased life expectancy. However, it is still unclear whether it is really the factors mentioned above that lead to increased life expectancy. Too many other influences could also play an important role in such a case. For example, relaxation and avoidance of stress, the siesta around lunchtime that is typical for Spain, a higher standard of living or the consumption of red wine could contribute to a longer life expectancy. All of these factors mean that it is not really possible to make a 100 percent accurate statement.
Do three million people die every year from salt consumption?
However, the above problems are not the only limitation in such calculations. One of the main reasons for death from improper nutrition is extremely controversial among many experts. Every year, three million people alone are supposed to die prematurely because they consume too much salt, study author Christopher Murray from the University of Washington and his colleagues report. Daily amounts of salt of around six grams or slightly more are already considered problematic by the authors. However, such a crowd does not seem to harm people without specific medical conditions. There is even increasing evidence that the recommended small amounts (around three grams) may be unhealthy for us.
Does salt consumption in China lead to more cardiovascular diseases?
In the land of the rising sun, salt consumption continues to rise. In addition, the number of diseases of the cardiovascular system is increasing. The question naturally arises: is this increase in diseases due to the consumption of salt? Or are there other factors, such as a lifestyle without sufficient exercise? In addition, high air pollution, daily stress and the consumption of many finished products could have an impact on life expectancy.
Some inconsistencies are difficult to explain
There are often results in studies that are not easy to explain. In the case of the current data analysis, there are inconsistencies in some countries when it comes to the eating habits of their population. For example, Mexico consumes almost more sugar than anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, Mexico is almost in the top 10 when it comes to the countries with the fewest deaths from unhealthy eating. Do the typical corn tortillas balance all the unhealthy sugar? This food usually does not contain a lot of whole grains and therefore many quickly available carbohydrates. Commonly used corn oil contains many omega-6 acids that are considered unhealthy. However, despite an unhealthy diet, the Mexicans seem to have few deaths from improper nutrition, which does not go well together. Even when it comes to the supposedly healthy fruit, there are some inconsistencies. Studies have previously shown that fruits and vegetables are actually healthy. But if fruit is considered alone, the beneficial effect of consumption is partially reduced in some studies.
A handful of nuts every day?
It is different with nuts. Doctors recommend eating a handful of nuts every day because it has extremely positive effects on the body. The beneficial effect is not only proven by observational studies. To what extent we would all be healthier if we eat nuts every day remains to be seen. Because nuts, for example, are also extremely susceptible to mold, which produces a poison that is one of the few nutritional factors for which negative health effects have been clearly demonstrated. (as)