The Western diet is spreading across the world. It's characterized by a high intake of red meat, refined sugars and saturated fat -- but little fiber.
A common feature of Western diets is processed fast food. Here's a pepperoni pizza high in fat and carbohydrates and topped with cured, processed meat.
Candy bars have been highlighted as a key example of processed foods. Ingredients such as fructose and palmitic acid may initiate a low-level immune response in the body, distracting the immune system from other infections.
Sugary drinks are the epitome of the fast-food diet. Their high sugar content increases the likelihood of obesity, diabetes and other health conditions.
The Mediterranean diet is renowned for its health benefits. It contains low levels of red meat, sugar and saturated fats and is high in fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Diets with little fruit and vegetables can be low in vitamins, minerals and fiber crucial to growth and health.
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The Japanese diet is also known for its healthy components -- high in soy protein and vegetables.
Diets on the southern Japanese Okinawa Islands contain large amounts of fish, whole grains, soy protein and vegetables.
It's not just the fat ... more reasons why a Western diet could be bad for you
Editor’s Note: Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.