Globally, diets are not much healthier today than they were thirty years ago

Summary: While the incorporation of healthier vegetables and fruits into diets improved over time, diet quality was offset by consumption of unhealthy components such as processed meats and sugary drinks.

Source: Tufts University

On a scale of 0 to 100 of how well people adhere to the recommended diets, where 0 is a poor diet (think high intake of sugar and processed meats) and 100 represents the recommended balance of fruits, vegetables , legumes/nuts and whole grains. , most countries would score around 40.3.

Globally, this represents a small but significant gain of 1.5 percentage points between 1990 and 2018, researchers from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy report today in the journal. Feeding nature.

The study, one of the most comprehensive estimates to date of global diet quality, and the first to include findings among both children and adults, highlights challenges around the world in promoting healthy eating.

While overall gains were modest, there was notable variation by country, with nutritious options becoming more popular in the United States, Vietnam, China and Iran, and less so in Tanzania, Nigeria and Japan.

“Intake of legumes/nuts and non-starchy vegetables increased over time, but overall improvements in diet quality were offset by increased intake of unhealthy components such as red/processed meat , sugary drinks and sodium,” says lead author Victoria Miller. , a visiting scientist at McMaster University in Canada who began this study as a postdoctoral researcher with Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of policy and Jean Mayer Professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School, and lead author of the paper.

Retail dietary quality

Poor nutrition is one of the leading causes of disease, responsible for 26% of preventable deaths worldwide. Although interventions and policies to support healthy eating are urgently needed, little is known about differences in diet quality according to demographics such as age, sex, education or proximity to urban areas: useful information to guide public health campaigns.

Miller and colleagues addressed this gap by measuring global, regional, and national dietary patterns among adults and children in 185 countries using data from more than 1,100 surveys in the Global Dietary Database, a large collaborative collection of data on food and nutrient consumption levels worldwide. . The researchers’ primary outcome was the 0-100 scale known as the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, a validated measure of diet quality.

At the regional level, averages ranged from 30.3 in Latin America and the Caribbean to 45.7 in South Asia. The average score of the 185 countries included in the study was 40.3. Only 10 countries, representing less than 1 percent of the world’s population, had scores above 50. The highest-scoring countries in the world were Vietnam, Iran, Indonesia and India, and the lowest were Brazil, Mexico, the United States and Egypt.

Globally, among adults, women were more likely than men to eat recommended diets, and older adults were more likely than younger adults.

“Healthy eating was also influenced by socioeconomic factors, including education level and urbanicity,” says Miller. “Globally and in most regions, more educated adults and children with more educated parents generally had higher overall dietary quality.”

“On average worldwide, diet quality was also greatest among the youngest children, but then worsened as children got older,” he adds. “This suggests that early childhood is an important time for intervention strategies to encourage the development of healthy food preferences.”

Poor nutrition is one of the leading causes of disease, responsible for 26% of preventable deaths worldwide. The image is in the public domain

The researchers note that some study imitations to consider include measurement errors in the dietary data, incomplete survey availability in some countries, and a lack of information on some important dietary considerations, such as trans fat intake. But the findings provide key benchmarks for comparison as new information is added to the global dietary database.

Turn data into policy

Researchers say the scale and detail of the Feeding nature The study allows nutrition researchers, health agencies and policy makers to better understand trends in dietary intake that can be used to set goals and invest in actions that encourage healthy eating, such as meal promotion made from seafood, shellfish and vegetable oils.

“We found that both too little healthy food and too much unhealthy food contributed to global challenges in achieving the recommended dietary quality,” says Mozaffarian.

“This suggests that policies that encourage and reward healthier foods, such as health care, employer welfare programs, government nutrition programs, and agricultural policies, can have a substantial impact on improving nutrition in the United States and around the world.”

Next, the research team plans to study how different aspects of poor diets directly contribute to major diseases worldwide, as well as model the effects of various policies and programs to improve diets at the global, regional and national

See also

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About this diet and health research news

Author: Press Office
Source: Tufts University
Contact: Press Office – Tufts University
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original search: Open access
“Global diet quality in 185 countries from 1990 to 2018 shows large differences by nation, age, education and urbanicity” by Victoria Miller et al. Feeding nature


Summary

Global dietary quality in 185 countries between 1990 and 2018 shows large differences by nation, age, education and urbanicity.

Evidence on what people eat globally is limited in scope and rigour, particularly for children and adolescents. This undermines goal setting and investment in evidence-based actions to support healthy and sustainable diets.

Here we quantified global, regional, and national dietary patterns among children and adults, by age group, sex, education, and urbanicity, in 185 countries between 1990 and 2018, based on data from the Global Dietary Database project.

Our primary measure was the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, a validated score of diet quality; Second, dietary approaches to stop hypertension and Mediterranean diet scoring patterns were evaluated.

Diet quality is generally modest worldwide. In 2018, the average global Alternative Healthy Eating Index score was 40.3, ranging from 0 (least healthy) to 100 (healthiest), with regional averages ranging from 30, 3 in Latin America and the Caribbean and 45.7 in South Asia. Scores between children and adults were generally similar in all regions, except in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, high-income countries, and the Middle East and North Africa, where children had a lower quality diet.

Globally, diet quality scores were higher among women compared to men, and the more educated compared to the less educated.

Diet quality increased modestly between 1990 and 2018 globally and in all regions of the world except South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where it did not improve.

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