Eating A “Western Diet” Linked To Poor Aging And Premature Death

People who followed a Western diet had a higher risk of premature death and poor aging, according to this analysis of data from the British Whitehall II study. A Western diet consists of fried foods, processed food, red meat, pies, sweetened deserts, chocolates, refined grains, high-fat dairy, and condiments. At the start of the 16 year follow-up researchers collected information on diet from 3,775 men and 1,575 women, whose average age was 51. Health status was assessed every five years. Dietary information was used to determine how closely the participants’ diets adhered to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI). After follow up the participants were categorized into five groups: ideal aging without chronic disease and with high physical and mental performance (4%), nonfatal cardiovascular event (12.7%), cardiovascular death (2.8%), noncardiovascular death (7.3%), and normal aging (73.2%). Lower adherance to the AHEI was associated with an increased risk of death, while those with the greatest adherence to the Western diet had 48% lower odds of ideal aging, independent of other health behaviors.