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Western Diet and Inflammation

John Neustadt, ND

The prevalence of chronic, degenerative diseases attributable wholly or in part to dietary patterns is the most serious threat to public health in the United States. These diseases include cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and overweight/obesity. The numbers are truly staggering. One third of American adults (more than 71 million people) have one or more types of CVD, including 13.2 million cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 65 million cases of high blood pressure (HBP, defined as systolic blood pressure =140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure =90 mm Hg).1 CVD, the number-one cause of mortality in the United States, accounted for 37.3% of all US deaths in 2003, and was “an underlying or contributing cause” for approximately 58% of deaths in 2002.1

Cancer is responsible for 25% of US deaths and is the second leading cause of mortality.2 Research suggests that about one-third of all cancer deaths are attributable to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and overweight or obesity;2 and these risk factors may account for up to 80% of large bowel, breast, and prostate cancers.3,4 Overweight (defined as body mass index [BMI] of 25- 29.9) and obesity (BMI =30) are at epidemic levels, with 65% of US adults classified as overweight or obese.5 Nearly one-third of US children are either at risk for being overweight or are already overweight or obese.5 Obesity contributes to more than 280,000 deaths each year in the United States,6 and in the coming decades may erode the national gains in life expectancy.7

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