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Poor diet and high blood pressure are leading risks for early deaths

A new study has found that more Americans are dying from diseases related to high body mass index (BMI), and fewer related to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Researchers studied the 79 risk factors for death in 188 countries, between 1990 and 2013.restaurant-food-fast-food

The study also examined the risk factors that lead to health loss, tracked regional variations, risks associated with health loss, measured by disability adjusted life years, and includes several risk factors, such as unsafe sex, wasting stunting, and no hand-washing with soap, for the first time.

Researchers found that the top factors were high blood pressure, high body mass, and high fasting plasma glucose (problems with insulin functioning). The study was carried out by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington and university of Melbourne.

“There is a great potential to improving health by avoiding certain risks like smoking and poor diet,” said IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray.

Smoking was found to be the No.1 risk factor for individual deaths in the US in 2013, and the greatest risk factor was poor diet. The authors wrote that sodium intake was a key component of diet that was related to high blood pressure, and they have recommended voluntary and mandatory reduction in sodium intake to reduce intake. High blood pressure was more common in men than women. Smoking is also a larger problem for men as it is related to 4.4 million deaths, and for females about 1.4 million deaths.

The IMHE analysis based on 14 dietary risk factors, concluded that a diet of high levels of red meat and sugary beverages, and low levels of fruits, vegetable and whole grains contributed to the higher number of deaths than all other factors.

Childhood malnutrition accounted for about 21.1 percent of the total under-5 deaths, about 1.3 million in 2013. Air pollution was found to the leading risk in South and Southeast Asia, and India is struggling with unsafe water and child under-nutrition.

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