Want to Age Well? Don't Eat Like an American

Study finds Western diet doesn't promote ideal aging

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 18, 2013 3:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – Doctors have long told us that the Western diet—fried foods, processed foods, red meat, white bread, dairy, and plenty of sugar—is unhealthy, and now they have numbers to back it up. Researchers studied 5,350 British adults with a mean age of 51 who were followed for an average of 16 years. The results? Only 4% enjoyed "ideal aging," defined as being free from chronic diseases and having strong physical, mental, and cognitive function, reports MedPage Today. Participants were divided into three groups based on how they ate, and the researchers found:

  • The group who ate the most Western-style diet were 42% to 50% less likely to experience ideal aging compared to the group that ate more vegetables, fruits, and fish
  • The Western diet was linked to a 53% increased chance of cardiovascular death and a 36% increased chance of non-cardiovascular death
  • The Western diet was also linked to a worsened musculoskeletal status (determined by walking speed) and worse cognitive function
Their conclusion: "avoidance of the 'Western-type foods' actually might improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic disease and remaining highly functional."

A new study shows how the Western diet is bad for the aging process.   (Shutterstock)
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