Map reveals how poor diets are killing millions across Europe

Health

The countries in Europe where most people die because they eat too much salt and not enough vegetables have been named and shamed.

Unhealthy eating is deadliest in Uzbekistan, while Spain and Israel are at the bottom of the table.

Britain ranks 42nd, with 62 diet-related heart disease deaths per 100,000 people, according to the analysis of 51 nations.

Researchers analysed how many heart disease deaths could be attributed to a diet high in salt but low in vegetables, nuts and whole grains. 

They estimate nearly half of the 4.3million deaths from the disease recorded across the continent in 2016 could be blamed on poor eating habits.  

The researchers produced a league table showing countries in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia ¿ as well as Germany ¿ suffer the most premature deaths because of their diets, while the hearts of people in countries in central and northern Europe are less badly affected

The researchers produced a league table showing countries in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia – as well as Germany – suffer the most premature deaths because of their diets, while the hearts of people in countries in central and northern Europe are less badly affected

Figures from the Global Burden of Disease Study showed 2.1million people in the region died because of heart disease caused by what they eat. 

And in the worst-affected countries, nine times more people are dying because of their food than in countries which are least affected.

Western European nations manage to stay clear of the top half of the table, which is made up primarily of Asian and Eastern European countries. 

Germany is the worst performing in Western Europe and the only one in the region to have more than 100,000 people die in 2016 because of their diet. 

‘We must make better use of the potential of a balanced and healthy diet, otherwise [heart] diseases will be the cause of even more preventable deaths in the future,’ said study author Professor Stefan Lorkowski.

Professor Lorkowski, from Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany, said the figures are ‘crucially relevant’.

The findings, using data from between 1990 and 2016, reveal people have different dietary problems in different countries.

In Sweden and Norway, for example, not eating enough nuts and seeds is the habit most associated with heart disease, according to the scientists.

Whereas in much of central and eastern Europe, as well as the central Asian countries involved in the region, a lack of whole grains is most concerning.

‘To put it another way: increased consumption of low-fibre white flour products has led to an increase in [heart] disease in recent years,’ Professor Lorkowski added.

The research also looked at how people’s diet affects other risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure and lack of exercise, but didn’t include alcohol consumption. 

The other countries in the top 10 are Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbeijan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

While the eight making up the rest of the bottom 10 are Israel, France, Netherlands, Andorra, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway and Italy.

Researchers also revealed men’s diets are more damaging to their health than women’s. 

Women’s diets only began to seriously damage their health beyond the age of 50, while men were affected when they were younger.  

The study used the World Health Organization’s definition of the European region, which includes Russia and various countries in Central Asia. 

The findings come after a major study this morning warned millions of people are at risk of an early death because they do not eat enough fibre.

A review commissioned by the WHO found that people who get plenty of fibre in their diet cut their risk of early mortality by up to a third.

They also cut their risk of a heart attack, stroke, type two diabetes or bowel cancer by up to a quarter.

Yet the vast majority of adults in Britain – around 91 per cent – eat less than the recommended daily amount. Similar figures exist in the US.

The findings are a blow for trendy low-carb diets, which have boomed in popularity in recent years and have also driven down fibre intake. 

WHICH COUNTRIES IN EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA HAVE THE DEADLIEST DIETS? RANKED BY FOOD-RELATED DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE 

COUNTRY Annual number of deaths caused
by diet-related heart disease Diet-related heart disease
 deaths per 100,000 people Uzbekistan 65,799 394 Turkmenistan 10,483 376 Kyrgyzstan 10,627 350 Ukraine 253,196 349 Moldova 14,746 328 Azerbaijan 22,418 319 Belarus 44,568 313 Tajikistan 9,932 310 Kazakhstan 39,632 306 Russia 598,759 291 Georgia 16,486 278 Bulgaria 35,298 260 Latvia 9,004 232 Lithuania 12,187 214 Romania 70,166 206 Slovakia 15,643 206 Armenia 7,686 204 Macedonia 4,948 197 Hungary 33,539 192 Montenegro 1,582 186 Albania 6,085 174 Croatia 14,208 170 Estonia 4,491 170 Serbia 23,971 168 Czech Republic 28,574 159 Bosnia and Herzegovina 9,081 153 Poland 94,291 150 Greece 25,785 100 Cyprus 1,195 88 Finland 10,029 87 Germany 164,639 87 Malta 644 87 Slovenia 3,646 86 Austria 15,186 83 Ireland 4,984 79 Sweden 16,164 77 Iceland 353 69 Turkey 44,298 67 Portugal 14,499 63 Luxembourg 568 62 United Kingdom 75,343 62 Italy 96,977 61 Norway 5,818 61 Switzerland 10,349 60 Belgium 13,608 59 Denmark 5,854 55 Andorra 94 54 Netherlands 16,301 52 France 66,801 46 Israel 4,486 43 Spain 44,617 43

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