Daily Health Headlines

Better Diets May Be Extending Americans' Lives

👤by Randy Dotinga 0 comments 🕔Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

MONDAY, Nov. 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the stereotype that Americans are eating more unhealthful foods that leave them vulnerable to assorted diseases, a new study suggests the opposite may be true.

Harvard researchers report that they found evidence that better diets since 1999 have saved more than one million people from dying prematurely. They also believe improved diets have significantly cut diabetes and heart disease, and even slightly trimmed cancer cases.

The findings paint a surprising picture of American health. But study author Dong Wang, a graduate student with the departments of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, cautioned that it's not time to declare victory in the battle against unhealthy eating.

"The overall American diet is still poor," he said. "Huge room exists for further improvement."

The researchers wanted to understand how changes in the American diet in the 21st century affected health over time. To get insight into the answer, they analyzed the results of seven health and nutrition surveys including almost 34,000 adults aged 20 and older between 1999 and 2012.

The researchers ranked diets on a healthy eating scale from 0 (poor diet) to 110 (perfect diet). From 1999 to 2012, the overall rating increased, from 40 to 48.

On the positive side, over time, Americans ate more fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes and polyunsaturated fatty acids, Wang said. They also ate less trans fats, sugar-sweetened beverages and juice, and red and processed meat. But the intake of salt actually went up.

The researchers extrapolated their findings and estimated that the improvement in diets prevented over one million premature deaths and lowered heart disease cases by almost 9 percent, type 2 diabetes cases by nearly 13 percent and cancer cases by just over 1 percent.

According to Wang, the study findings suggest that healthier diets lower the risk of death in a variety of ways. Among other things, improved diets appear to lower the risk of chronic diseases and boost the survival of people who have those conditions. Even a year or two of a better diet appears to have the power to affect survival rates, he said.

The study authors didn't analyze whether their estimates match up to actual death rates in the United States. But other research has pinpointed a decline in death rates in this century, Wang said.

Dr. Sonia Anand, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, praised the study, saying it's "reasonable" to link changes in diet to death rates in this way. But, she said, nutrition research like this has limitations because it relies on people's memories of what they ate. As a result, she said, it's crucial to look at a variety of studies and see if trends hold up.

According to study author Wang, trans fats have been almost eliminated from the food supply, so what is needed next is more taxation on sugary drinks and more regulations requiring salt to be reduced in food.

He also said the government can do more to improve diets for the poor, who haven't seen the same level of improvements as other groups. One option, he said, is to increase the number of farmers markets that accept food stamps.

The study is published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

Article Credits / Source

Randy Dotinga / HealthDay

Randy Dotinga wrote this story for HealthDay. HealthDay provides up to the minute breaking health news. Click here to view this full article from HealthDay.

SOURCES: Dong Wang, graduate student, departments of nutrition and epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Sonia Anand, M.D., Ph.D., professor, medicine and epidemiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada; November 2015, Health Affairs

View More Articles From Randy Dotinga 🌎View Article Website

Sponsored Product

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

People who have trouble sleeping typically have low levels of melatonin, so melatonin supplements seem like a logical fix for insomnia. There is a high demand for sleep aids, especially in the U.S. The National Health Interview Survey done in 2002, and again in 2007, found 1.6 million US adults were using complementary and alternative sleep aids for insomnia. Lunar Sleep was a top choice. Use Promo Code: Sleep2014 and only pay $1.95 S&H.

Get Lunar Sleep for $1.95

More Nutrition, Food, & Recipes Articles

Your Recipe for a Healthy, Delicious Holiday Season

Your Recipe for a Healthy, Delicious Holiday Season0

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The holidays can become one big pig out, but experts say it's possible to maintain healthy eating habits while you celebrate. "It's important to not look at holiday events as if they are an ...

Exploding Some Turkey Myths

Exploding Some Turkey Myths0

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A nutrition expert is talking turkey to dispel some common myths about the focus of most Thanksgiving meals. The most-repeated myth is that eating turkey makes you sleepy. While it does contain ...

How to Prepare That Holiday Turkey Safely

How to Prepare That Holiday Turkey Safely0

TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The traditional turkey centerpiece on Thanksgiving tables may come out looking scrumptious, but cooks in the kitchen need to be concerned about preparing the bird safely to prevent the spread of foodborne ...

Choose the Healthy Foods Options This Holiday Season

Choose the Healthy Foods Options This Holiday Season0

SUNDAY, Nov. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Even the best intentions to make healthy food choices during the holidays can be derailed, the American Heart Association cautions. Eating a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and ...

Health Tip: Don't Overeat During the Holidays

Health Tip: Don't Overeat During the Holidays0

(HealthDay News) -- It's easy to eat large portions and indulgent dishes during holiday feasts. But you can still enjoy the holidays without stuffing yourself. The University of California Los Angeles offers these suggestions: Focus on ...

View More Nutrition, Food, & Recipes Articles


Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Mailing List

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest health news as it breaks!

Your information will not be shared with anyone!