Poor Diet Biggest Cause of Early Death

Poor Diet Biggest Cause of Early Death Poor Diet Biggest Cause of Early Death

Unhealthy eating has been named as the most common cause of premature death around the globe, new data has revealed.

A poor diet – which involves eating too few vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains and too much red meat, salt and sugar - was shown to be a bigger killer than smoking and alcohol, reports

But for the UK, unhealthy eating is still in the top spot of high-risk factors in early death by smoking. Low levels of activity are at number 5, and alcohol use is at number 9.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in the US has found that high blood pressure, to which diet, exercise and obesity are key factors, is the biggest cause of premature death in countries across the world.

And unhealthy eating overall, characterized by high consumption of red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, contributed to more deaths than any other factor - because they contribute towards ischemic heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

The study was the most recent update on the 2010 report on the Global Burden of Disease, considered the most authoritative work on the causes of ill-health.

“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,” IHME director Dr Christopher Murray told The Guardian. “The challenge for policymakers will be to use what we know to guide prevention efforts and health policies.”

Data from 108 countries from 1990 to 2013 was used in the study, and the number of risk factors in premature deaths was increased from 67 to 79, to provide a broader study.

High-income countries tended to have smoking as their number one cause of premature death. In India and elsewhere in south and south-east Asia, air pollution was a leading problem.

In Latin America and the Middle East, meanwhile, obesity came out as the biggest risk for poor health.

But sub-Saharan Africa has a different pattern of risks from the rest of the world, where it is a combination of childhood under-nutrition, unsafe water, unsafe sex and alcohol use.