(CNN) - A new study finds a poor diet is responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other cause.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet.
Researchers analyzed global diets over a 27-year period, looking at 15 risk factors and their impact on death and disability.
They found poor diets killed more people around the world than tobacco smoking or high blood pressure.
The study’s lead author says the problem isn’t just that people are choosing unhealthy options like red meat and sugary sodas.
The real problem, according to the researchers, is that people are consuming high levels of salt and not eating enough healthy foods like whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds.
In fact, researchers found more than half of all global diet-related deaths in 2017 were due to just three risk factors: eating too much salt, not enough whole grains and not enough fruit.
“We found that improvement of diet could potentially prevent one in every five deaths globally,” the report said. “Our findings show that, unlike many other risk factors, dietary risks affected people regardless of age, sex, and sociodemographic development of their place of residence.”
Egypt had the highest number of diet-related deaths in 2017, according to the study, while Japan had the lowest.