Sausages and burgers are killing more than 4,000 Brits a year, an international study has claimed. Processed meats are causing death rates higher than most other countries according to findings published in the respected Lancet medical journal.
Scientists calculated that there were a total of 90,000 deaths caused directly by poor diet in Britain in 2017 due factors such as not eating enough fruit and vegetables. Researchers analysed death rates for cancer cardiovascular disease and diabetes in 195 countries as well as intake of 15 key ingredients in foods or drink.
In the UK they found eating too much processed food caused 4,300 deaths and too much salt 14,100 deaths. While on an individual level foods cannot be identified as a cause of death, the statisticians calculated on a population level how many lives would be saved if we ate "optimal" amounts of these foods.
Too much red meat was responsible for 369 deaths while too much sugary drinks caused 1,900 deaths. Other factors measured were diets lacking in nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, milk, fibre, calcium, seafood omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.
Lack of fruit was responsible for 18,400 deaths, vegetables 13,400 deaths and whole grains 24,200 deaths. Author Dr Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington, said: "Poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world. While sodium, sugar, and fat have been the focus of policy debates over the past two decades, our assessment suggests the leading dietary risk factors are high intake of sodium (salt), or low intake of healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, and vegetables."
Of these the UK fared worst in the international comparison for processed meats which caused an estimated 6.7 deaths for every 100,000 adults in 2017.
Death rates due to high levels of processed meats saw Britain come 17th worst out of 195 nations. This was worse than other European nations such as Italy with 3.2, Ireland and Spain at 3.1 and France at 2.8. Scientists recommend a daily intake of processed meats of between 18g and 27g.