Researchers from Tufts University have found that today’s diets are not significantly different or healthier than they were three decades ago across the planet.
The team ranked different foods on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 meant the least nutritional value or junk food and 100 was a perfectly healthy diet with all the components.
In 2018, the average score was 40.3, which is 1.5 points higher than in 1990. During this period, healthy options have become popular in some countries such as the United States, China and Iran, but in others like Japan and Nigeria, people’s diets had become unhealthy. People in the Americas ate poorly, but South Asians had the best eating habits.
Only 10 countries in the world scored above 50 today.
As people consume more vegetables and dried fruits these days, they also eat more red meat and take in sugary drinks and salt.
The study published in the journal natural food also found that women eat a healthier diet than men. Older people have also been found to consume healthier foods than younger people.
Education seems to play an important role. Those with higher education are more aware and become well-educated parents, feeding their children healthier foods.
The team said eating habits and diet quality decline with age. The youngest children had the best diets, but it got worse as they got older. The authors said childhood may be the best time to form healthy habits in children.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 1,100 World Food Database surveys conducted in 185 countries.
Poor diet was found to be the leading cause of disease and nearly 26% of early deaths.