Study Finds Bad Diet Causes More Deaths than Smoking

Before you binge on Burger King, munch on those McDonald’s McNuggets or devour those Dunkin’ Donuts, you’ll want to keep reading. That’s because a new study found that a new study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that poor eating habits are more likely to result in death than smoking.

The study explored 15 dietary factors around the world to assess their role in deaths in each country. High salt consumption was one of the key factors in nearly every country. Additionally, not eating sufficient whole grains and fruit were nearly universally found among the top factors contributing to deaths in each country.

What Constitutes a Bad Diet

The researchers found that there are many dietary factors contributing to premature death around the world. In the United States the primary dietary risk factors, in order, include:

  1. Low whole grains
  2. Low nuts and seeds
  3. High sodium consumption
  4. Low fruit consumption
  5. Low vegetable intake
  6. Low Omega-3 intake
  7. High processed meat consumption
  8. Low fiber
  9. High trans fat consumption
  10. Low legume consumption (beans, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, pintos, etc.)
  11. High sweetened beverages
  12. Low calcium intake
  13. Low milk consumption
  14. Low polyunsaturated fats in the diet
  15. High red meat consumption

While the scientists prioritized the dietary habits from worst to least bad in each country, it is important to keep in mind that they found that all of these dietary habits contributed to death. So, don’t underestimate the problems of high red meat consumption, for example, which certainly contributes to death from cancer or heart disease, among others, it simply wasn’t as bad as low whole grain consumption, low nuts and seed consumption and high sodium consumption in the United States.

Many other countries had the same dietary problems, but not necessarily in the same order of severity.

6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Diet

Eat More Whole Grains

There are many excellent whole grains you can add to your diet, including: brown rice (technically a seed, but it still counts), 100% whole grain bread (anything less is just white flour with a small amount of whole grains added), oatmeal for breakfast, to name a few.

Eat More Nuts and Seeds

It’s easy to snack on raw, unsalted cashews, almonds, pistachios or other delicious nuts or to drink almond milk or spread almond or cashew butter on your whole grain toast.

Reduce Your Sodium Consumption

Stop shaking so much salt on your food, eating high-sodium fast foods or packaged foods. Add herbs to flavor your meals and eat more home-cooked options.

Eat More Fruits

Make fruit your dessert of choice—whether it is a bowl of frozen blueberries that taste like blueberry sorbet or raspberries, strawberries or sliced peaches. Fruit like apples, pears, grapes or fruit makes a great snack as well.

Make Vegetables the Star of Your Meals

By making vegetables the star of your meals and not just the side dishes, you’ll likely reduce your red meat and processed meat consumption while also reaping the benefits of more vegetables. Not a fan of veggies? That simply means you’re eating them in the same old boring ways and need to get your hands on a great plant-based cookbook. Roasting vegetables helps to bring out their naturally-delicious flavors. It’s worth the effort to do a little experimentation in your kitchen.

Eat More Omega-3-Rich Foods

Wild salmon, raw walnuts (unsalted, of course), and chia seeds are all great sources of anti-inflammatory Omega-3s. Simply add more salmon to your dinners, snack on walnuts or add them to a salad or trail mix, and add more chia seeds to your smoothies and breakfast cereals.

Related Stories:


Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, founder of Scent-sational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking. Follow her work.



Paulo R
Paulo R7 days ago


Dennis Hall
Dennis H7 days ago


Marija M
Marija M7 days ago

tks for sharing

Kathy K
Kathy K8 days ago


Janis K
Janis K10 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Roxana Saez
Roxana S10 days ago


Janet B
Janet B10 days ago


Daniel N
Daniel N10 days ago

thank you

Danuta W
Danuta W10 days ago

Thanks for posting

Sherry Kohn
Sherry K10 days ago

Many thanks to you !