Scientific articles published in The Lancet carry a certain prestige. In the field of medicine and public health, The Lancet is one of the world’s most respected journals.
Listen up what scientists behind a new article published in this journal are saying:
Our poor eating habits are evolving into an epidemic. “It is estimated that by 2020 nearly 75 % of all deaths and 60 % of all disability-adjusted life years will be attributable to NCDs” And what are those NCDs?
They are non-communicable chronic diseases, e.g. diseases that are not passed from person to person. There are four main types of these diseases: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Most of the causes for NCDs are dietary or strongly diet-related. But that scary 2020 quote is not produced by the authors of this article. This article is mainly telling us, with rigorous scientific evidence, that this quote indeed does have a basis in reality: our eating habits are getting worse and worse and they are killing us.
The article is a systematic assessment which looked into the dietary quality of men and women in 187 countries, comparing the data from 1990 and 2010. The data was evaluated by looking into global consumption of key dietary items (food and nutrients) and further scrutinized by region, nation, age and sex. The massive assessment draws together data from 325 surveys which, according to the authors, covers 88.7 procent of the global adult population.
The conclusion is that although people in rich and middle-income countries have modestly increased their intake of healthier foods and nutrients, the scale and pace of our consumption of unhealthy (the authors list processed meats and sweetened drinks as some of the culprits) foods and nutrients is outrunning this healthy development in every corner of the world.
The article criticizes the focus of international food programmes: most of them are designed to tackle undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency, but in virtually every region of the world, non-communicable chronic diseases are surpassing those issues.
The real urging, policy advocacy sentence comes in the very last paragraphs of the article: “The results of this study show an urgent need to focus on improvement of diet quality among poor populations worldwide”.
Want food security and a healthy, cognitively adapt population? Look into diets.
Photo by yum9me. Flickr Creative Commons, original photo can be found here.