We eat little healthier than 30 years ago. Research shows which social groups have made the change

We eat little healthier than 30 years ago. Research shows which social groups have made the change
We eat little healthier than 30 years ago. Research shows which social groups have made the change
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According to research in 185 countries, diets globally are not much healthier than 30 years ago, reports the journal Nature Food.

The research was conducted by scientists from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. The health benefits of the diet were rated on a scale of 1 to 100, with 0 being a lean diet (high intake of sugar and processed meat) and 100 the recommended balance of fruits, vegetables, pulses / nuts and whole grains. For most countries, the score was around 40.3, which on a global scale represents a slight increase of 1.5 points between 1990 and 2018.

The authors are the first to detail the eating habits of adults and children in 185 countries over three decades. It is one of the most comprehensive studies on global dietary quality to date – and the first to cover results for both children and adults.

DIFFERENCES BY COUNTRY

While the global improvement was modest, there were significant differences by country, with healthier eating becoming more popular in the United States, Vietnam, China, and Iran, and less in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Japan.

The consumption of legumes, nuts and non-starchy vegetables increased over time, but the overall improvement in dietary quality was offset by increased consumption of unhealthy ingredients such as red, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks and sodium, says lead author Victoria Miller of McMaster University in Canada, who began this study as a postdoctoral fellow with Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of Politics and Professor of Nutrition at Friedman School, and co-author of the article.

Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of disease, responsible for 26 percent of avoidable deaths worldwide. While interventions and actions to support healthy eating are urgently needed, little is known about differences in dietary quality according to demographics such as age, gender, education or proximity to urban areas – important information if you want to target your public health campaigns properly .

WHICH SOCIAL GROUPS AND WHERE THEY HAVE ADOPTED A HEALTHIER DIET

Miller and her colleagues studied global, regional, and national eating patterns of adults and children in 185 countries using data from more than 1,100 surveys from the Global Dietary Database, a comprehensive, joint data sheet on food and nutrient consumption levels worldwide.

On the 100-point scale known as the Healthy Eating Alternative Index, average scores ranged from 30.3 in Latin America and the Caribbean to 45.7 in South Asia. The mean score for all 185 countries surveyed was 40.3. Only 10 countries, representing less than 1 percent of the world’s population, scored above 50. The countries with the highest scores in the world were Vietnam, Iran, Indonesia and India, and the lowest were Brazil, Mexico, the United States and Egypt. When it comes to adults, around the world women are more likely than men to follow the recommended diets, and older adults are more likely than younger adults.

Healthy eating has also been influenced by socio-economic factors, including levels of education and urban planning, said Miller. – Worldwide and in most regions, better educated adults and children with more educated parents generally had a higher overall quality of diet.

Globally, the quality of the diet was also higher among younger children, but then deteriorated with age, she added. ‘This suggests that early childhood is an important time for intervention strategies that encourage the development of healthy food preferences.

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GLOBAL CHALLENGES RELATED TO A HEALTHY DIET

The researchers note that some study limitations that need to be considered include measurement errors in nutritional data, incomplete survey availability in some countries, and a lack of information on some important nutritional issues, such as trans fat consumption. However, the findings offer key benchmarks for comparison.

According to the authors, the scale and detail of the Nature Food study enables nutrition scientists, health agencies and policymakers to better understand dietary trends that can be used to set goals and invest in incentives for healthy eating, such as promoting meals made from products, fruits and vegetables. sea ​​and vegetable oils.

“We’ve found that both too little healthy food and too much unhealthy food contribute to the global challenges of achieving dietary quality,” says Mozaffarian. “This suggests that policies that motivate and reward healthier food, such as health care, employer wellness programs, government nutrition programs, and agricultural policies, can have a significant impact on improving nutrition in the United States and around the world,” he adds.

The research team then plans to assess how different aspects of poor diet directly contribute to serious medical conditions around the world, and to model the effects of different policies and programs to improve diet on a global, regional and national scale.

The publication can be found here.

PAP / am

The article is in Polish

Tags: eat healthier years Research shows social groups change

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