Processed foods high in sugar, fat and starch are driving the growth of unhealthy foods.

The world’s diet has deteriorated substantially in the last two decades, a leading nutrition expert said on Monday, citing one of the largest studies available on international eating habits.

Poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are seeing the fastest increases in unhealthy food consumption, while the situation has improved slightly in Western Europe and North America, said Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Between 1990 and 2010, middle and low income countries saw consumption of unhealthy foods increase dramatically, Mozaffarian said, citing information in a study he co-authored for the March edition of The Lancet Global Health journal.

The “globalisation” of western diets – where a small group of food and agriculture companies have disproportionate power to decide what is produced – is partially causing the shift to unhealthy eating, Mozaffarian said.

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