One of the largest surveys of data on global dietary habits and longevity has concluded that our parents were justified in forcing us to eat our greens. Published in The Lancet, the study found that eating vegetables, fruit, fish and whole grains was strongly associated with a longer life, and that, conversely, “people who skimped on such healthy foods were more likely to die before their time,” according to The New York Times. In 2017, this means 11 million deaths could have been avoided.
The study documented global eating habits from 1990 to 2017 and analyzed data from 195 countries and found a staggering difference between countries with the highest and lowest rates of diet-related deaths. The United States ranked 43rd.
The solution? Increase the presence of healthy food in our diets. Where this can get a bit tricky is when you start factoring in the availability and accessibility of these foods. While some experts are calling for national policies to increase the availability of these foods, particularly in lower-income countries where fresh food can be cost-prohibitive to process, and for large food companies to develop healthier products, this is easier said than done.
While the study did have some limitations, particularly gaps in diet data from poorer nations, nutrition and health experts still strongly support this study.
Read the study in full here.