• Switzerland's news in English

'Lifestyle diseases' kill 16 million a year: WHO

Nina Larson/AFP · 19 Jan 2015, 11:36

Published: 19 Jan 2015 11:36 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Unhealthy habits like smoking, alcohol abuse and consuming too much fat, salt and sugar have sparked an epidemic of diseases which together constitute the leading cause of death globally, WHO said.
This "lifestyle disease" epidemic "causes a much greater public health threat than any other epidemic known to man," said Shanthi Mendis, the lead author of WHO's Chronic Diseases Prevention and Management report.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, lung disease and a range of cancers, killed a full 38 million people around the globe in 2012 — 16 million of them under the age of 70.
"Not thousands are dying, but millions are dying . . . every year in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, not in their 80s and 90s," said Mendis.
"It's beyond belief that it is seemingly invisible," she told reporters ahead of the launch.
Most of the world's 16 million premature NCD deaths each year — 82 percent — occur in poor and middle income countries, and most of them could be averted with just small investments, the report found.
"The global community has the chance to change the course of the NCD epidemic," WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.
Millions of lives could be saved if the world over the next decade invests just $11.2 billion each year, or $1-3 per person, on promoting healthier habits, the report found.

Devastating consequences 

Story continues below…

Today, some six million people die prematurely each year due to tobacco use, 3.3 million deaths are linked to alcohol abuse, 3.2 million to lacking physical activity and 1.7 million to eating too much salt, according to WHO findings.
A full 42 million children under the age of five are considered to be obese, and an estimated 84 percent of adolescents do not get enough exercise, Mendis said, describing the situations as "extremely frightening."
The international community has staked out nine global targets for shifting unhealthy habits with the aim of slashing premature NCD deaths by a quarter between 2011 and 2025.
Simple and inexpensive steps like banning advertising of tobacco and alcohol products and taxing foods and drinks that contain high levels of salt and caffeine has already proven successful in a range of countries, WHO said.
In Turkey, for instance, an advertising ban on tobacco products combined with significant price hikes and health warnings has pushed smoking rates down 13.4-percent since 2008.
A move in Hungary to heavily tax unhealthy food and drink components has meanwhile led to a 27-percent drop in junk food sales, the report said.
But while some countries have made progress, most will fall short of the 2025 target, WHO said, warning that inaction would have far-reaching consequences.
"When people fall sick and die in the prime of their lives, productivity suffers, and the cost of treating diseases can be devastating," the UN health agency said.
It has estimated that if nothing is done to improve the situation, premature NCD deaths will suck $7 trillion out of the global economy over the next decade.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nina Larson/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available