Americans are not eating enough healthy foods, such as nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and seafood rich with omega-3 fats. And too many are opting for foods that are too salty, sugary drinks, red meat (such as hamburgers and steaks) and processed meats such as bacon and hot dogs. And these nutritional choices are having an impact on the U.S. death rate, says a startling new report.
Nearly half of all deaths in the United States in 2012 that were caused by heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes were linked to “substandard eating habits,” according to a study published in the March 7 issue  of JAMA and funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Of the 702,308 adult deaths reviewed, 318,656, or about 45 percent, were associated with over-consumption of certain foods and nutrients that are not widely considered healthy.
The highest percentage of deaths was linked to excess consumption of sodium. Salt contains 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. That means each teaspoon of salt provides 2,000 milligrams of sodium. Processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats were also consumed in excess, the study found.
Meanwhile, Americans did not consume sufficient foods that are healthy such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats and seafood omega-3 fats, including salmon and sardines, the report said.
The study also found that the proportion of deaths linked to poor diets varied across population groups. For example, death rates were higher among men when compared to women; among African Americans and Hispanics compared to whites; and among those with lower education levels, compared with their higher-educated counterparts.
The authors concluded that “these results should help identify priorities, guide public health planning, and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health.”
The study findings were based on death certificate data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Arthritis Limiting Daily Activity of More Americans, CDC says
The percentage of adults with arthritis who are limited in their daily activity because of the disease grew from 36 percent in 2002 to 43 percent in 2014, a significant increase overall. The findings of the new report  from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was independent of the aging of the population.
More than 24 million adults with arthritis have activity limitations from their disease. The everyday activities limited by arthritis include holding a cup, lifting a grocery bag, or walking to their car, the CDC found.
Overall, more than 54 million adults in the U.S, or about 1 in 4, have arthritis (a condition that can result in pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling of the joints). Almost 60 percent, or about 32 million, of those with arthritis are of working age (ages 18-64).
“Arthritis symptoms keep millions of Americans from going about their daily routines,” said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “Doctors and loved ones can help people with arthritis by encouraging them to be as physically active as they can be. Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis.”
Regular exercise, or just being more active by taking brisk walks, can reduce arthritis symptoms by up to 40 percent. However, many adults with arthritis are not physically active. About 1 in 3 adults with arthritis say that they do not engage in physical activity during leisure time.
Adults with arthritis also can reduce their symptoms by taking part in “management education programs,” but just 1 in 10 has taken part in these programs, the CDC report found.