Publication date: 
December 19, 2019

SEATTLE – A Global Burden Disease study published last April and led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) that concludes poor diets cause one in five deaths globally has been ranked 11th in the 2019 Altmetric 100, the annual listing by the UK-based data science firm of research that most captured the public’s interest. 

The paper, “Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017,” was published in the international medical journal The Lancet. The paper is the most comprehensive analysis of the health effects of diet ever conducted. 

“We are what we eat,” said Lancet Editor Dr. Richard Horton. “This study underscores the imperative that healthy eating saves lives and that people with poor diets, whether they’re in Delhi or Dubai, are at substantial risk of life-threatening conditions.” 

The paper’s lead author, Dr. Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor at IHME, reiterated Horton’s comment. 

“Those diet-related health risks affect people across a range of demographics, including age, gender, and economic status,” Afshin said.  

The Altmetric Top 100 is an annual list of the research that “has most captured the public’s imagination each year, based on the data collected” according to the firm. 

The annual listing is developed by way of the Altmetric Attention Score, a metric based a weighted count of the amount of attention garnered by a research study. The weighting reflects the relative reach of each type of source, such as mainstream media outlets, social media posts and policy documents.  

In addition to research papers, this year’s list also includes systematic reviews, researchers’ letters to the editor, case studies submitted to medical journals, and other scholarly contributions, according to the company. 

Afshin’s diet paper has a score of 5,826; the top-ranking paper in Altmetric, a 2019 study on creating fake images and videos using advanced technology, scored 13,464. 

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About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation 

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health.