(Sandee LaMotte/ CNN) — Which risk factor is responsible for more deaths around the world than any other? Not smoking. Not even high blood pressure. It’s a poor diet.
“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure,” said Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
And it’s not just that people are choosing unhealthy options such as red meat and sugary sodas. Just as critical, said Afshin, the lead author of a 27-year global diet analysis published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet, is the lack of healthy foods in our diets, along with high levels of salt.
“While traditionally all the conversation about healthy diet has been focused on lowering the intake of unhealthy food, in this study, we have shown that, at the population level, a low intake of healthy foods is the more important factor, rather than the high intake of unhealthy foods,” he said. (…)