Around ten percent of all people worldwide suffer from hunger, but the overwhelming majority of the rest tend to have enough and eat the wrong thing. On average, one in five deaths is due to an unbalanced diet - poor nutrition causes more deaths than any other risk factor. These are the findings of a study involving 195 countries recently published in the medical journal "The Lancet".
For Prof. Glaeske the results are "alarming". The director of the "Länger besser leben." institute, a cooperation between the University of Bremen and the health insurance company BKK24, took a closer look at the study and looked specifically at factors that, in the opinion of the researchers, adequately describe the quality of nutrition. "After that, healthy food is characterized by many fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In addition, through sufficient fruit and vegetables, less red meat, less salt and unsweetened drinks." In addition, polyunsaturated fatty acids, for example in olive and linseed oil, and fatty sea fish such as salmon and mackerel should regularly be on the diet. "Actually, this isn't all new. Nevertheless, there are worlds between the results of the countries surveyed," summarizes Prof. Glaeske, highlighting Israel, France, Spain and Japan in particular: "There were less than 100 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants caused by unhealthy diets." The results of the study are not consistent with the results of the other countries. Among the countries at the back of the list, the figure is 700 out of 100,000.
When asked about Germany, Prof. Glaeske has to look down a bit and ends up in 38th place. However, he sees "no real surprise" in this and cites the high proportion of processed food as a reason. His demand: "We must turn the tide and offer healthy food - but in the end only politics can help". Among the measures currently being discussed, the health expert mentions a sugar tax or coloured references to healthy or unhealthy ingredients as part of the packaging of food.
According to Prof. Glaeske, there are already health initiatives that correspond to what the study results demand. "For several years now, BKK24's "Läng besser leben" prevention programme has been committed to a balanced and vitamin-rich diet with specific opportunities to take part. Nevertheless, support from politicians is needed to establish binding rules for transparent and useful food labelling so that healthy and unhealthy food can be quickly distinguished.