Each Hotdog Consumed Reduces Life Expectancy by 36 Minutes

According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Food, every hotdog eaten decreases a person’s life expectancy by 36 minutes. The study examined healthy life expectancy, defined as the duration of a person’s excellent health and absence of disease.

Additionally, the study says that consuming healthier meals can add minutes to their healthy life expectancy. A handful of nuts, for example, adds nearly 26 minutes to a person’s life, while a peanut butter and jam sandwich adds more than half an hour.

The findings come from University of Michigan experts who developed a standardized method for calculating the carbon footprint and nutritional impact of over 6,000 meals.

Their Health Nutritional Index was developed with the goal of calculating the direct impact of various meals, snacks, and beverages. It works by assessing the health impact of a single gram of any meal and then multiplying that by a regular serving amount.

“For example, we found that, on average, 0.45 minutes are lost per gram of any processed meat that a person eats in the US,” the study authors said.

“The 61 grams of processed meat in a hotdog sandwich results in 27 minutes of healthy life lost due to this amount of processed meat alone. Then, when considering the other risk factors, like the sodium and trans fatty acids inside the hotdog – counterbalanced by the benefit of its polyunsaturated fat and fibers – we arrived at the final value of 36 minutes of healthy life lost per hotdog.”

However, each food item contributes to a unique equation, and individuals do not need to make drastic dietary adjustments to get the benefits, the researchers noted.

For instance, if a meat-eater replaces 10% of their daily calories, 250 for males and 200 for women, with nuts, fruits, and vegetables instead of processed meat or beef, they will add 48 minutes of healthy life each day they maintain this shift.

The researchers noted that this modest tweak has significant environmental benefits, as it reduces a person’s daily dietary carbon footprint by a third.

The Health Nutritious Index considers all aspects of a product’s life cycle, including its production, harvesting, processing, consumption, and disposal, as well as the calorific and nutritional value of a food.