Say it ain’t so, researchers. A new nutritional index was released recently. It aimed to quantify the risks and rewards of certain foods by putting them in terms of minutes of your life lost and gained. Hot dogs? Well, each takes roughly 36 minutes off of a human’s life, according to the study.
Somewhere, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest legend Joey Chestnut is walking around on borrowed time. The man eats 70-plus processed beef tubes in a 10-minute window every year. That’s not even including the hundreds he consumes in training and qualifying events throughout the year. Joey Chestnut is a dead man walking, according to the study.
Okay, that’s not exactly what the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences researchers had in mind when they published their nutritional index.
“We use the results to inform marginal dietary substitutions, which are realistic and feasible. We find that small, targeted, food-level substitutions can achieve compelling nutritional benefits and environmental impact reductions,” they wrote, as reported by The New York Post.
So don’t go freaking out if you happened to overindulge at your Fourth of July party this summer. An important distinction to note is the minute figures apply to “healthy life” gained and lost. No one is asserting that you’ll keel over 36 minutes before you otherwise would have after enjoying an all-beef frank.
The index was intended to illustrate the types of burdens put on human health by specific food items. And you can always take solace in this, where hot dogs take minutes off of your life, other foods are capable of adding minutes on.
Where Do Foods Besides Hot Dogs Land on the New Nutritional Index?
In fairness to the researchers, they didn’t single out hot dogs as the sole target of their nutrition index. According to Fox News, they looked at more than 5,000 different food items that are commonly consumed in the United States.
Apparently, the furthest ends of either extreme came out to 74 minutes of life lost and 80 minutes of life gained. Unsurprisingly, the worst-performing foods fall in the processed meat areas of hot dogs, burgers, and other similar sandwich-like offerings. Also rounding out the bottom end of nutritional value are beverages like sodas, with little more than sugar to offer.
On the positive side were vegetables, fruits, and grains. It’s all checking out so far.
Further, one of the added goals was to address what the researchers saw as weaknesses in previous studies. Many seemed to pit plant-based offerings against animal-based without the necessary evidence to do so.
“Previous studies investigating healthy or sustainable diets have often reduced their findings to a discussion of plant-based versus animal-based foods, with the latter stigmatized as the least nutritious and sustainable,” the study said.