Did you know that according to many doctors and scientists, 80% of our diet should consist of fruits and vegetables? And yet, a large study has shown that a poor diet is associated with 1 in 5 deaths worldwide or about 11 million deaths a year. And that makes unhealthy eating habits responsible for more deaths than tobacco and high blood pressure. The study was published in the journal The Lancet.


Study author Dr. Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington, said,

“Poor dietary habits, which is a combination of high intake of unhealthy foods, such as red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages and a low intake of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and seeds, overall causes more deaths than any other risk factors globally.”1

The study looked at “trends in consumption of 15 dietary elements from 1990 to 2017 in 195 countries,”1 including “diets low in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, fiber, calcium, seafood omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, and diets high in red meat, processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fatty acids, and sodium.”1

  • an estimated 11 million deaths were attributable to unhealthy diets in 2017; 10 million deaths from heart disease, 913,000 deaths from obesity-related cancers, and nearly 339,000 deaths from type 2 diabetes
  • diets high in sodium, low in whole grains, and low in fruit together accounted for more than half of all diet-related deaths around the world
  • of the 195 countries studied, Israel had the lowest rate of diet-related deaths; Uzbekistan had the most, the U.S. ranked 43rd

And, researchers discovered that more deaths were associated with not eating enough healthy foods rather than with eating too many unhealthy foods. (FYI: This does not  mean you should eat junk food!) The team also found that consuming too much red meat, processed meat, trans fat, and sugar-sweetened beverages were big risk factors.


Hopefully, policy makers and the food industry will work together to be part of the solution but I highly doubt that. No, you alone are going to have to educate yourself and make healthy choices. No one is going to do that for you because Big Ag and Big Pharma care about one thing only: their bottom line. They seem to work as a team, if they can push unhealthy food on you they can make you sick and a consumer of Big Pharma. (Am I the only one who thinks this?)

“The authors note several important limitations to the study. While the research uses the best available data, there are gaps in the data available for intake of key foods and nutrients around the world, which increases the statistical uncertainty of these estimates.

Still, they conclude that people in almost every corner for the world could benefit from rebalancing their diets and consuming more healthy foods and less unhealthy foods.”1

Do you find it difficult to eat a healthy diet? Does having this information change your mind about cutting back on sugar or red meat? Or increasing your veggie and fruit intake?



  1. CBS News