A recent study published in the JAMA demonstrates that the top health risk factor faced by American patients is an unhealthy diet[i]. The leading risk factors related to DALYs (Disease Adjusted Life years), YLLs (years of life lost due to premature mortality) and YLDs (years lived with disability) were dietary risks.
This study puts unhealthy diet front and center as the greatest health risk faced by most patients in the US. While still important, infectious diseases are no longer the cause of most morbidity and mortality. Now instead lifestyle has come to the fore. Lifestyle choices, especially dietary choices, are either the main etiologic, or a significant exacerbating, factor behind common chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypercholesterolemia, essential hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and some cancers such as prostate and colon cancer.
[i] Christopher J. L. Murray and the US Burden of Disease Collaborators. “The State of US Health, 1990-2010 Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors.” JAMA. 2013;310(6):591-606