Study Evaluates Impact of Food Choices on Life Expectancy Interview with:
Lars T. Fadnes
Professor & research group leader
Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care
& Bergen Addiction Research
Department of Addiction Medicine
University of Bergen & Haukeland University Hospital

Prof. Fadnes  What is the background for this study? 

Response: Food is fundamental for health, and globally dietary risk factors are estimated to cause 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life years annually. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study provides summary measures of population health that are relevant when comparing health systems but does not estimate the impact of alterations in food group composition and respective health benefits. The EAT–Lancet commission did present a planetary diet, but it gives limited information on the health impact of other diets, and few people are able to adhere to strict health  maximization approaches.  What are the main findings?

Response: Our modeling methodology showed that life expectancy gains for prolonged changes from typical Western to optimized diets could translate into around a decade for young adults. The largest gains would be made by eating more legumes, whole grains and nuts, and  less red and processed meat. For older people, the gains would be smaller but substantial. Even the feasibility approach diet indicates increased LE by 7% or more for both women and in in all age groups. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Understanding the relative health potential of different food groups could enable people to make feasible and significant health gains.

The Food4HealthyLife calculator could be a useful tool for clinicians, policy makers, and laypeople to understand the health impact of dietary choices. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research could extend understanding on linking between food patterns, longevity and chronic diseases, but also to integrate sustainability aspects. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The methodology provides population estimates under given assumptions and is  not meant as individualized forecasting, with uncertainty that include time to achieve full effects, the effect of eggs, white meat, and oils, individual variation in protective  and risk factors, uncertainties for future development of medical treatments; and  changes in lifestyle.  


Fadnes LT, Økland JM, Haaland ØA, Johansson KA (2022) Correction: Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study. PLOS Medicine 19(3): e1003962. 

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