Step away from the burger: Why a 'Western' diet is bad for your health

Story highlights

  • A 'Western' diet is high in sugars, saturated fats, and animal protein yet low in fiber.
  • Highly processed and refined foods are disliked by the body, creating an immune response
  • Eating processed foods can cause the good bacteria in your gut to be pushed out
  • Recent studies have linked Western diets with increased risks of colon and prostate cancer

Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.

(CNN)The developing world is seeing rapid urbanization, with more than half of the world's population now living in cities and this figure expected to reach 70% by 2050.

But with this progression comes an urban lifestyle -- often meaning less physical activity and the consumption of a "Western" diet.
    "[There's a] nutrition transition occurring around the world," says David Tilman, professor of Ecology at the University of Minnesota. In a recent study, Tilman explored global trends in diet choices and the link between these diets and health.