POOR diet kills 90,000 Brits a year – with a lack of whole grains, nuts and fruit the biggest culprits.
A major global study in The Lancet reveals scoffing the wrong food costs nearly the same number of lives as smoking in the UK.
Alamy Lack of fruit and veg is causing more harm than eating junk food
Unhealthy diets fuel deadly conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Experts found too much salt was the fourth biggest dietary risk factor in Britain, followed by too little veg.
In contrast, fizzy drinks and processed meats, such as ham and bacon, were only minor contributors.
Scientists said the findings suggest Brits are not being directly harmed by junk food – but by missing out on healthy meals.
The NHS recommends we eat five different portions of fruit, vegetables and fresh juice a day.
But only one in four adults hit the target.
The UK had the 23rd lowest mortality due to diet, with 127 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017
Lead researcher Dr Ashkan Afsin, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at Washington University, said not eating enough whole grains, fruit and veg was killing Brits.
He said: “Ideally, consumers should aim for replacing unhealthy food and foods of low nutritional value in their diet with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.”
The research looked at 195 countries around the world.
The UK had the 23rd lowest mortality due to diet, with 127 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 – despite two in three adults being fat.
In total, it cost 89,913 lives. In contrast, smoking was responsible for 96,000 deaths in 2016.
However, it is a dramatic improvement compared to 1990 when we ranked 73rd, and bad eating habits killed 345 per 100,000 Brits.
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Commenting on the findings, Professor Nita Forouhi, from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, said: “The UK is doing much better than 30 years ago, thanks to better individual awareness and public health campaigns to reduce salt intake.
“People still aren’t eating enough fruit and whole grains, and obviously they are eating something else.
“We need to swap out more junk food from our diet if we are to do better and save more lives.”
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