One in five deaths is globally associated with poor diet, experts said in a study released on Thursday and warning that overuse of sugar, salt and meat killed millions of people each year.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 1 billion people worldwide are malnourished, while nearly 2 billion are "overnourished".
But the latest study of global diet trends, published in The Lancet showed that in almost all the 195 countries studied, people also eat for many of the wrong types of food – and consuming worryingly low level of healthier products.
For example, the world consumes on average more than 10 times the recommended amount of sweetened beverages and 86 percent more sodium per day. Person than it is considered safe.
The study, which examined consumption and disease trends between 1990 and 2017, also warned that too many people ate too few whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Of the 11 million deaths due to poor diet, by far the largest killer was cardiovascular disease, which is often caused or aggravated by obesity.
"This study confirms what many have believed for years – that poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world," says study author Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
"Our assessment suggests that the leading dietary factors are a high intake of sodium or low intake of health foods."
The report highlighted great variation in diet-related deaths among nations, with the high-risk country, Uzbekistan, having 10 times the lowest risk food-based mortality rate, Israel.
In January, a consortium of three dozen researchers demanded a dramatic shift in the way the world eats.
The EAT-Lancet report said the global population should eat about half as much red meat and sugar and twice as many vegetables, fruits and nuts to avert a worldwide obesity epidemic and avoid "catastrophic" climate change.
The authors of Thursday's study noted that economic inequality was a factor in poor dietary choices in many countries.
On average, it turned out to reach "five a day" fruit and vegetable services that doctors used to cost, only 2 percent of the household income in rich nations, but more than half of the household income of the poor.
"This study provides us with good evidence of what needs to be targeted to improve dietary habits and hence global and national health," said Oyinlola Oyebode, associate professor at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, England, who was not involved in the research. .
"The lack of fruit, vegetables and whole grains in diets all over the world is very important – but the other dietary factor highlighted in this study is the high intake of sodium intake," said Oyebode.