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Poor diet and blood pressure key global health risks

Friday September 11th, 2015

Unhealthy diets and high blood pressure are now the major causes of death globally, researchers say today.

This is in contrast with 25 years ago when unsafe water, sanitation, poor hygiene and child and maternal malnutrition were the major causes of death, according to the study published in Lancet.

India is one of the few regions where the main health risks have not changed in the last quarter century - along with sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers say that high body mass index is the number one health risk in much of the Middle East and Latin America.

Smoking is still the single biggest cause of ill health in many high income countries, including the UK, they say.

But in south and south-east Asia household air pollution is a major risk, they say.

The findings come from the Global Burden of Disease study led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Globally high blood pressure contributed to more than ten million deaths in 2013, the researchers say. But poor diet contributed to 21% of total deaths globally, they say - and this included diets low in fruit, whole grains and vegetables and diets high in sugary drinks and red meat.

Institute director Dr Christopher Murray said: "There's great potential to improve health by avoiding certain risks like smoking and poor diet as well as tackling environmental risks like air pollution."

Lancet 11 September 2015 [abstract]

Tags: Diet & Food | Heart Health | UK News | World Health

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