Healthy? No Thanks: Diets of People Worldwide Are Worsening

Healthy? No Thanks: Diets of People Worldwide Are Worsening

In this file photo dated Tuesday, June 26, 2012, two overweight women hold a conversation in New York, USA. Almost a third of the world population is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis released Thursday May 29, 2014, led by Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, USA, and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Researchers reviewed more than 1,700 studies covering 188 countries covering over three decades and found more than 2 billion people worldwide classified as overweight or obese. The highest rates of obesity were found in the Middle East and North Africa, with the U.S. having about 13 percent of the world’s fat population.  (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FILE)
In this file photo dated Tuesday, June 26, 2012, two overweight women hold a conversation in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FILE)

MARIA CHENG, AP Medical Writer

LONDON (AP) — There may be more fruit, vegetables and healthy options available than ever before, but the world is mostly hungry for junk food, according to a study of eating habits in nearly 190 countries.

International researchers combed through more than 320 self-reported diet surveys from 1990 to 2010 and looked at how often people said they ate 17 common foods, drinks and nutrients including healthy choices like fruits, vegetables and fish and unhealthier alternatives like salt, processed meat and sugary drinks.

Experts found that even though people are eating more healthy foods including whole grains and fish, there has been an even bigger jump in the amount of junk food eaten. The study was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Medical Research Council and was published online Thursday in the journal, Lancet Global Health, as part of an obesity series.

Some of the study’s key findings:

— Older adults ate better than younger adults and women ate healthier than men.

— Some of the best nutritional improvements were seen in Mongolia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Countries needing to curb their junk food habits included Bosnia, Armenia and the Dominican Republic.

— There was a mixed picture in the U.S., with increases both in the amount of healthy and unhealthy foods eaten.

“There’s still a long way to go,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, of the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University and one of the study authors. He said that despite Westerners being among the biggest eaters of junk food, China and India were catching up and that governments should step in.

“We can’t leave it unchecked,” he said.

— Researchers found in some countries in Africa and Asia, there has been no improvement in their diet during the past 20 years.



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