Americans are not alone in craving salty, sweet and all-around unhealthy foods, according to a new study on global health trends.
Published Wednesday in Lancet Global Health, the report tracked the eating habits of 88.7 percent of the world's adult population. Comparing survey results from 1990 with findings from 2010, researchers determined that increased consumption of unhealthy foods like sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats outpaced modest increases in healthy food consumption.
"There are just really striking changes going on in the world in nutrition in recent decades," said Dariush Mozaffarian, a co-author of the study and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, to the Washington Post. "We have to adjust our entire approach to feeding the planet," helping poor countries provide their citizens with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, for example, rather than simply shipping them high-calorie, "starchy staples."
The research was designed to assess how dietary trends could impact worldwide diagnoses of noncommunicable diseases. These illnesses, which include cancer, heart disease and diabetes, are caused, in part, by unhealthy diets.
"International food programs have traditionally focused on food security and micronutrient deficiency, but the diet-related health burdens due to noncommunicable chronic diseases are now surpassing those due to undernutrition in nearly every region of the world," the study's authors wrote.
Researchers also used survey responses to analyze how age, gender and socioeconomic status influenced dietary health.
"While some people — older folks, women and those in some developed nations — have increased their consumption of … healthful foods and substances, that improvement has been surpassed by increased consumption of … unhealthful foods, particularly among younger generations, men and middle-income and poor nations," the Post reported.
For Americans used to reading about the rising obesity rate or the incredible number of calories contained in a single Chipotle burrito, the study's findings likely come as no surprise. On Thursday, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee met to discuss potential solutions to citizens' dietary woes, concluding that Americans are in desperate need of more vegetables, fruits and other healthier fare, according to a separate article from the Washington Post.
"About 117 million people have preventable chronic diseases related to poor diet and physical inactivity," the article noted.
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