12 January - 20 June 2016

Following a Western diet may lead to greater risk of premature death

24 April 13

Data from a new study of British adults suggest that adherence to a “Western-style” diet (fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) reduces a person’s likelihood of achieving older ages in good health and with higher functionality, according to study results published in The American Journal of Medicine.  The study scored dietary patterns using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) to assess disease risk.  People with better AHEI scores had better overall health outcomes as they aged.  The study included nearly 3,800 men and 1,600 women in Britain, with an average age of 51, who were followed from 1985 to 2009.  Using a combination of hospital data, results of screenings conducted every five years, and registry data, investigators identified mortality and chronic diseases among participants.  The outcomes at follow-up stage, classified into five categories, were as follows:  73 percent of the participants had experienced normal aging and 4 percent had undergone ideal aging, which is defined as free of chronic conditions with high scores on tests of physical and mental abilities.  During the follow-up period, 13 percent of the participants had a nonfatal cardiovascular event, 3 percent died from heart-related causes and 7 percent died from other causes.  Following specific dietary recommendations such as the one provided by the Alternative Healthy Eating Index might be useful in reducing the risk of unhealthy aging, while avoidance of the ‘Western-type foods’ might actually improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic diseases and remaining highly functional.

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