Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Food & Life Expectancy

Understanding the health potential of food can enable people to increase their life expectancy.

Researchers reviewed data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease Study to compare the typical Western Diet to an Optimal Diet. An Optimal Diet had substantially higher intake than a typical diet of whole grains, beans, fish, fruit, vegetables, and nuts, while reducing red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and refined grains.

Takeaway: Researchers found that a sustained change away from the Western diet to adopt the Optimal diet would increase the life expectancy:

  • For 20-year-olds, by 10.7 years for women and 13 years for men
  • For 60-year-olds, by 8 years for women and 8.8 years for men
  • For 80-year-olds, by 3.4 years.

Well-being is a journey, not a quick fix


Lars T. Fadness, et al., Estimating Impact of Food Choices on Life Expectancy: A Modeling Study, PLOS Medicine, Feb. 8, 2022,

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