Thursday 21 September 2017

Ireland in bottom third of 187 countries for healthy eating

IRELAND is in the bottom third of 187 countries for consumption of healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables
IRELAND is in the bottom third of 187 countries for consumption of healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

IRELAND is in the bottom third of 187 countries for consumption of healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables, although our diet has improved, a major study reveals today.

Improvements in diet quality between 1990 and 2010 have been greatest in high-income nations, with modest reductions in the consumption of unhealthy foods and increased intake of healthy products, the findings published in 'The Lancet Global Health Journal' shows.

Led by Dr Fumiaki Imamura from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a team of international researchers analysed data on the consumption of 17 key food items and nutrients related to obesity and non-communicable conditions - such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diet-related cancers - and changes in diets between 1990 and 2010. He told the Irish Independent: "Ireland is in the bottom one third and similar to other western countries. The improvements in the last two decades have been encouraging though."

He said the highest scores for healthy food consumption were noted in several low-income countries, for example Chad and Mali, as well as Mediterranean nations like Turkey and Greece. This possibly reflects the favourable aspects of the Mediterranean diet. In contrast, low scores for healthy food eating were shown for some central European countries and republics of the former Soviet Union, such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

The international team examined three different diet patterns, including a favourable one based on 10 healthy food items, fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, milk, total polyunsaturated fatty acids, fish, omega-3s, and dietary fibre.

The unfavourable one had seven unhealthy items, such as unprocessed meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, saturated fat, trans fat, dietary cholesterol and sodium.

"Our findings have implications for governments and international bodies worldwide," he pointed out. By 2020, non-communicable diseases will account for 75pc of all deaths.

Irish Independent

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