Asian populations may be giving up long-term health benefits when they switch their diets to include more Western-style foods, according to a recent study by scientists at Cornell University.

The scientists came to the conclusion after reviewing the results of the China Study II, the latest survey of diets, lifestyles and disease mortality among Chinese populations started in 1987-8. China Study II acted as a follow-up to the China-Oxford-Cornell Study on Dietary, Lifestyle and Disease Mortality Characteristics in 65 Rural Chinese Counties (China Study I) and focused on current dietary habits in Taiwan and mainland China.

“With the new data from mainland China, along with the fascinating new data from Taiwan now in hand, we will have the opportunity to explore dietary and disease mortality trends,” said T. Colin Campbell of Cornell, speaking at the Congress of Epidemiology 2001 in Toronto last month.

“We will see how fast dietary changes in rural China […] result in the development of Western diseases,” he added.

The main difference for Asian populations is the switch from primarily plant-based foods to a Western-style diet rich in animal-based foods.

To view data from China Study II, visit the Oxford University web site by clicking here.