Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Risk Reduction Can Add 5-10 Years to Healthy Life Expectancy. (WHO News)

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Risk Reduction Can Add 5-10 Years to Healthy Life Expectancy. (WHO News)

Article excerpt

Human beings globally could give themselves an average of 5-10 more years of healthy life, according to the World Health Report 2002--reducing risk, promoting healthy life, which came out on 30 October. The authors came to this conclusion after quantifying the effects of some of the major risks of illness, disability and death, and then estimating how risk-reduction measures would change the picture. Of the 25 main preventable risks they studied, they found that the top 10 globally were: childhood and maternal underweight, unsafe sex, high blood pressure, tobacco, alcohol, poor hygiene (which includes unsafe water and sanitation), high cholesterol, indoor smoke from solid fuels, iron deficiency, and overweight. Together these account for over 22 million of the 56 million deaths that occur annually (40%), and a third of the total annual loss of healthy life-years.

Though some of these risks are global, others occur almost exclusively in certain parts of the world. About 1000 million people in middle- and high-income countries are overweight, whereas the 170 million children in the world who are underweight are in low-income countries. In North America and Western Europe, half a million people a year die from diseases related to overweight and obesity. In most of Africa, being underweight and having unsafe sex are the top risks, whereas in North America, Western Europe and industrialized countries in the Western Pacific such as Japan, the top risks are tobacco use and high blood pressure. …

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