Cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and diabetes are the four main groups of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). They’re also a main cause of preventable, premature deaths.
New research shows that over 15 years 37 million premature deaths due to NCDs can be prevented. How? By reducing or curbing only six modifiable risk factors: tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, salt intake, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. As in, if you keep up your bad habits, chances are you won’t live as long. If you drop them, and get healthier, you’ll likely live longer, and our guess is your quality of life will improve too.
How, exactly would changing these 6 factors improve your life expectancy and reduce your risk of premature death?
Tobacco Use – Kick the habit to reduce risk of death by at least 30 percent, and up to 50 percent
With the new year, New York City bid farewell to Mayor Mike Bloomberg after a twelve-year term. Love him or hate him, his achievements in public health were stunning. While others only talked, he managed to act on smoking, obesity, and hypertension—and he placed the burden of fixing them on the industries that profited at the cost of the public’s health.
The Mayor showed that public health is a priority for local government, not just for the federal government to create health policies from on high. Bloomberg used New York City as a laboratory for public health innovation, spotlighting issues and testing solutions on a relatively small scale.
Here’s a reminder of Mayor Bloomberg’s most significant public health campaigns:
Bloating, high blood pressure, extra calories… too much sodium in your diet can lead to all three, none of which are conducive to weight loss. Experts recommend 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily, or 1,500 if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, are African American, or 51 and older. That means about half the U.S. population should, theoretically, cap it at 1,500 mg, but it’s pretty much impossible unless you do all your own cooking and use very few packaged foods. In fact, you’d be surprised how easy it is to blow right by these levels. (Check out Why You Should Shake Your Salt Habit to learn why everyone should cut back on sodium.)
You can slash your intake by:
Reading labels. It’s eye-opening how many foods are laden with sodium, from your go-to whole-wheat bread to your favorite salad dressing to your usual breakfast cereal. Make it a habit to check the label for sodium content before putting anything in your grocery cart. Choose foods that are lower in sodium in each category, or even better, opt for “no salt added” (canned tomatoes, canned beans, grain mixes). (more…)
A recent study found a correlation between how high a nation’s sugar consumption is and its type 2 diabetes rate. Now researchers are taking it a grim step further by estimating how many deaths can be directly attributed to sugary drinks.
Researchers at Harvard have linked sugary drinks to the deaths of 25,000 Americans every year and 180,000 deaths worldwide.
“We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity, and that a large number of deaths are caused by obesity-related diseases. But until now, nobody had really put these pieces together,” said Gitanjali Singh, the lead author of the five-year study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.
In a not-so-shocking development, The American Beverage Association issued a critical response to the study’s findings.
“It does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer – the real causes of death among the studied subjects,” the industry group said in a written statement. “The researchers make a huge leap when they take beverage intake calculations from around the globe and allege that those beverages are the cause of deaths which the authors themselves acknowledge are due to chronic disease.” (more…)