Western Diet Contributing to Ill Health and Early Mortality

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Western diet consisting of fatty and sugary foods is still a popular diet among Americans even though it is linked to disease and negative health conditions.


The Western diet an eating pattern that includes high amounts of saturated fats, processed carbohydrates and excessive calories. The Western diet is related to several health conditions and chronic diseases. The diet also lacks calcium and minerals needed for health. The following diseases and conditions have been linked to the Western diet.

Premature Death

Research shows that British adults who follow a western diet containing processed and red meat and high fat reduces a person likelihood of obtaining older ages in good health and high functioning. Researchers examined whether diet evaluated in midlife using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating index (AHEI) is linked with aging phenotypes after an average Mortality, chronic diseases, and functioning were ascertained from hospital data, register linkage, and screenings every 5 years and were used to create 5 outcomes at follow-up: ideal aging follow-up of 16 years (free of chronic conditions and high performance in physical, mental, and cognitive functioning tests; 4%), nonfatal cardiovascular event (7.3%), cardiovascular death (2.8%), non-cardiovascular death (12.7%), and normal aging (73.2%). The results showed those who consumed the western diet consisting of high intake of fried foods, sweets, processed foods, red meat, refined sugars and high fat dairy products had lower odds of ideal aging which incorporates cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, respiratory, mental, and cognitive components.

Cardiovascular Health

A study of dietary patterns in 52 countries in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association notes that the western diet accounts for 30 percent of heart attack risk across the world. Researchers examined NTERHEART study, which documents the association of various risk factors and the risk of heart attack in about 16,000 participants in 52 countries. In this study researchers examined 5,761 heart attack cases and compared them to 10,646 people without known heart disease (control). After adjusting for risk factors people who consumed a western diet had a 35 percent great risk of having a heart attack n comparison to people who consumed little or none of fried foods and meat.

A meta-analysis was conducted to examine potential relations between dietary patterns and coronary heart disease. Researchers examined 12 prospective cohort studies between 2000 and 2014. The analysis of 409,780 participants indicated that adherence to the western diet could increase coronary heart disease by up to 45 percent. (Association between dietary patterns and coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 8(1), 781–790.)

Prostate Cancer

Consuming a western diet after prostate cancer diagnosis may lead to a considerably higher risk of prostate cancer relate mortality and overall mortality. Researchers looked at health and diet information from 925 men participating in the Physicians' Health Study I and II who were diagnosed with prostate cancer. The men were followed for an average of 14 years after prostate cancer diagnosis and divided them into groups of those who followed a western diet or a prudent diet (higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, fish, legumes, and whole grains). The researchers found that men who mostly followed a western diet had 2.5 times higher risk of prostate cancer related death.( Dietary Patterns after Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in Relation to Disease-Specific and Total Mortality, Cancer Prevention Research, online June 1, 2015, doi: 10.1158/1940-6207)

Colon Cancer

A report from researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found colon cancer patients who consume a western diet may increase the risk of disease relapse and early death. The study included 1,009 patients with stage III colon cancer and had received both surgery and chemotherapy. Participants reported their dietary intake on specially designed questionnaires at two different times; during chemotherapy and six months after chemotherapy. The survival benefit of those with the western diet was associated to poor outcomes even after researchers controlled for factors such as gender, age, body mass, degree of cancer spread to lymph nodes, and physical activity level. (Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association)

Western diet increases the risk of colon cancer in women. A clinical trial by the esearchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston of 76,402 women aged 38 to 63 who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. All the participants completed diet questionnaires in the years 1984, 1986, 1990 and 1994. During the 12 year follow-up 445 women developed colon cancer and 101 women were diagnosed with rectal cancer. The researchers found women who consumed a western diet had a 46 percent higher risk of developing colon cancer.( Major dietary patterns and the risk of colorectal cancer in women, Archives of Internal Medicine. 2003; 163:309-314.)

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems like stroke and diabetes. In a prospective cohort study of 9,154 participant’s ages 45 to 65 years and followed for nine years Researchers reviewed the effect of the western diet and the development of metabolic syndrome. The researchers found the western diet was associated with a higher risk for developing metabolic syndrome and eating red meat, fried foods and drinking diet soda were each on their own linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome. (Dietary intake and the development of the metabolic syndrome: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study. ( Circulation . 2008 Feb 12;117(6):754-761.)

Alzheimer’s disease

Dr. William Grant, PhD, Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, San Francisco, California, conducted a study using Alzheimer’s predominance 10 countries (Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, and the United States) along with dietary supply data 5, 10, and 15 years before the prevalence data. Dietary supply of meat or animal products (minus milk) 5 years before Alzheimer's disease prevalence had the highest correlations with Alzheimer's disease prevalence in this study. It appeared that each person who lives in the United States has a four percent chance of developing Alzheimer’s most likely due to the western diet. The western diet is not only strongly linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease but other several other chronic diseases. (Using Multicountry Ecological and Observational Studies to Determine Dietary Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease,William B. Grant,Journal of the American College of Nutrition Vol. 35 , Iss. 5,2016 )


Akbaraly, T., Sabia, S., Hagger-Johnson, G., Tabak, A. G., Shipley, M. J., Jokela, M., … Kivimaki, M. (2013). Does Overall Diet in Midlife Predict Future Aging Phenotypes? A Cohort Study. The American Journal of Medicine, 126(5), 411–419.e3. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.10.028
American Heart Association. (2008, October 22). 'Western' Diet Increases Heart Attack Risk Globally. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171337.htm’
“Western” diet linked to increased risk of colon cancer recurrence. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/dci-dl080907.php


Calories, Cancer, Diseases, Fats, Health Consequences, Processed Foods, Refined Sugar, Western Diet

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author avatar authordeb
Author of the Love and Laughter series
Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Freelance Health Write
Works with Media companies for interviews and articles such as Howie Mandel for Afib,

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