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Ulrich Keil, M.D., Ph.D., University of Muenster, Germany


"Four non-communicable diseases(NCDs), mainly cardio-vascular diseases(CVD), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the world`s biggest killers, causing an estimated 36 million deaths in 2008-representing 63% of the 57 million global deaths that year - with 80% in low and middle income countries. As these NCDs are largely preventable it is time to invest in the prevention of these NCDs by eliminating shared risk factors, mainly tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol" (WHO 2008). Morbid obesity and cigarette smoking each shorten life expectancy by about 10 years and moderate obesity by about 3 years.Social and economic factors leading to physical inactivity and diets high in saturated fat, salt and sugar are the underlying causes of the obesity epidemic.Five priority interventions for the NCD crisis have been recommended by WHO:Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to curb tobacco use, campaigns involving the food industry to reduce salt consumption, measures to implement food taxes, subsidies, labelling and marketing restrictions to fight obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol intake and a combination of drugs for individuals at high risk to reduce CVD risk. Physical activity seems to be the most efficient measure:compared to the inactive group those who engage in physical activity of only 15 minutes/day reduce their total mortality by 14% and increase their life expectancy by three years. (Lancet 2011)



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