It turns out that what people aren't eating is killing them. A recent study in JAMA found that about 45% of all deaths among subjects in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from some of the most common chronic diseases - type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease - can be contributed to poor intakes of fruits, vegetables, seafood derived omega-3 fats, nuts and whole grains. Too much sodium, sugar-sweetened drinks and processed meats like bacon were also found to raise the risk of enjoying fewer birthdays. Now I can feel even better about my daily salad, adding a generous handful of blueberries and almonds to my breakfast oatmeal and grabbing a few cans of sardines every time I visit the grocery store.
America is often considered to have one of the worst overall diets, but eating habits up here in Canada aren’t much better.
A report funded by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada and carried out by researchers the University of Montreal found that about 48% of Canadians’ daily caloric intake hails from ultra-processed foods. Alarmingly, the investigation also discovered that children aged nine to 13 are the largest consumers of these nutritional duds, which account for 57% of their daily calories. Those are huge numbers and should sound alarm bells for health officials.
For the purpose of the study, “ultra-processed foods” were defined as products comprised largely of substances like sugar, fat, salt and additives, with little to no intact food. So that would be stuff like sweetened drinks, frozen dinners, sugary boxed cereals, fast-food pizza, cereal bars and potato chips. All of which are contributing to our collective poor health and expanding waistlines among all generations.
So clearly, dietitians like myself still have a lot of work to do.