REVIEW – May 2018

Which dietary patterns best promote a long and healthy life?

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The burden of disease that can be attributable to an unhealthy diet in Estonia is comparable to equivalent burdens caused by alchol and tobacco. The most important piece of dietary advice is to eat more plantbased food. This should come at the expense of eating less meat, potatoes, white bread, pasta, pastries and sweets. Meta-anayses conducted on epidemiological cohort studies (which have studies over a million participants) suggest that the largest health gains can be seen in those who eat 800 grams of fruit and vegetables a day. This is at least two times greater when compared to the average consumption in Estonia. In order to increase the production and consumption of plantbased foods, concerted effort is required to inform consumers and patients on the one side, while concurrently applying pressure for food industry to make their products healthier. National governments need to play their role by considering advertisement restrictions and altered taxation, in order to make healthier foods more accessible and affordable when compared to less healhy foods. Doctors have a key role to play in calling for and facilitating these changes.