Unhealthy foods such as pizza, soda and cheeseburgers might taste good, but including too many of them in your diet can have negative effects on your overall health. Diets high in saturated fat and calories and low in nutrients can contribute to illness and obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), if everyone adopted a healthier diet, it could prevent $71 billion in expenses associated with lost productivity, medical costs and premature deaths.
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Along with sedentary lifestyles, poor diet is one of the greatest contributing factors in having overweight or obesity. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 billion people worldwide have overweight, and it attributes the problem to diets high in sugar and saturated fat. Increasing the intake of healthful, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains and decreasing sugar, animal fat and processed carbohydrates can reduce diet-related causes of obesity.
Unhealthful diets are energy-dense but nutrient-poor, meaning foods are high in calories without providing the vitamins and minerals the body needs. Dr. Anthony Conte states that many people are actually undernourished despite having overweight because of their poor food choices. Poor diets are often low in antioxidants, vitamins that boost the immune system and play a role in disease prevention. People who do not consume enough iron also might be at risk of developing anemia.
Poor nutrition is linked to many diseases. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are the leading causes of death for Americans, and these are associated with poor diet and having overweight. High-fat foods clog the arteries, leading to heart disease, and high-sugar foods can lead to type 2 diabetes. A deficiency of vitamins A and C can suppress the immune system and leave you more vulnerable to viruses. A lack of calcium weakens the bones and can lead to osteoporosis.