The causes of these deaths included 10 million deaths from heart disease, 913,000 deaths from obesity-related cancers, and almost 339,000 deaths from type 2 diabetes.
On average, consumption of healthier foods such as nuts and seeds, milk and whole grains was too low and people consumed too many sugary drinks and too much processed meat and salt.
Those diseases are heavily influenced by high amounts of salt in the diet, which can cause spikes in blood pressure, as well as directly affecting the functioning of the heart.
The study estimates that one in five deaths globally - equivalent to 11 million deaths - are associated with poor diet, and diet contributes to a range of chronic diseases in people around the world.
For example, not eating enough whole grains was the leading dietary risk factor in several countries, including the United States.
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The rest were attributed to high consumption of red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks and other unhealthy foods including those containing trans-fatty acids. This led to one in five deaths in 2017 being linked to bad diets.
But just how does food impact on a country-by-country basis across the globe?
People in nearly every region of the world could benefit from changing their diets to ensure they eat the optimal amounts of various foods and nutrients, according to the Global Burden of Disease study.
A study published in January suggested an "ideal diet" for the health of people and the planet would include a doubling of consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and a halving of meat and sugar intake. "People - independent of age, gender, country of residence and socioeconomic status - to some extent are affected by poor dietary habits", says study co-author Dr. Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
"Dietary policies focusing on promoting healthy eating can have a more beneficial effect than policies advocating against unhealthy foods".