Oct 29, 2019, 12:36 PM
The study, published in The Lancet Global health journal, assessed the quality of diets in 197 countries, and found a rise in consumption of fruit and vegetables worldwide.
The countries with the healthiest diets overall were Chad, Sierra Leone, Mali, Gambia, Uganda, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Israel and Somalia.
The countries who scored highest for unhealthy foods were Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belgium, Heilongjiang, a Chinese province, Iceland, Belarus, Lithuania, USA and Russia.
As part of the study, a team of international researchers analysed data on the consumption of 17 key food items and nutrients related to obesity and major diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and diet-related cancers.
They looked at the changes in diets between 1990 and 2010 in countries around the world.
They looked at three different diet patterns and gave each a score.
The first was 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 second was an unfavourable diet based on seven unhealthy items: unprocessed meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, saturated fat, trans fat, dietary cholesterol, and salt.
The third was an overall diet pattern based on all 17 food groups.
The researchers assessed differences by country, age, sex, and national income, and gave each country a score between 0 – 100, with a higher score indicating a healthier diet.
They found high-income countries ate more healthy foods than low income countries, scoring 2.5 points higher on average.
However, overall, they had substantially poorer diets due to a higher intake of unhealthy foods – the average difference in score was -33 points.
According to the study, on average, older people and women seem to consume better diets.