Worldwide, one in five deaths is linked to poor nutrition, experts said in a study released Thursday, pointing out that over-consumption of sugar, salt and meat is killing millions every year.
The United Nations estimates that nearly one billion people worldwide are malnourished, while nearly 2 billion are "overfed".
But the latest study on global trends in diet, published in The lancet, showed that in almost all the 195 countries studied, people ate too many bad types of food – and consumed worrying amounts of healthier products.
For example, the world consumes on average more than 10 times the recommended amount of sweetened drinks and 86% more sodium per person compared to safety.
The study, which examined consumption and disease trends between 1990 and 2017, also warned that too many people were eating far too little whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds to maintain a healthy diet. healthy lifestyle.
Of the 11 million deaths attributable to unhealthy eating, the deadliest was by far cardiovascular disease, often caused or aggravated by obesity.
"This study confirms what many have been thinking for years: a poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world," said study author Christopher Murray, director from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. .
"Our assessment suggests that the major dietary risk factors are high sodium intake or low intake of healthy foods."
The report highlighted a wide variation in food-related deaths between countries, with Uzbekistan being the highest-risk country, Israel having a diet-based mortality rate more than 10 times that of Israel.
In January, a consortium of three dozen researchers called for a radical change in the way the world eats.
The EAT-Lancet report states that the world's population must consume about half as much red meat and sugar and twice as much vegetables, fruits and nuts to prevent an epidemic of obesity in the world and avoid climate change. catastrophic".
The authors of Thursday's study noted that economic inequality was a factor of poor food choices in many countries.
It has been found that on average, reaching the "five per day" portion of fruit and vegetables recommended by doctors accounted for only 2% of household income in rich countries, but more than half poorer.
"This study gives us good evidence that diets, and thus health, need to be improved at the global and national levels," said Oyinlola Oyebode, associate professor at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, England. who did not participate in the research.
"The lack of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the world's diets is very important, but the other dietary factor highlighted by this study is high sodium intake," Oyebode said.