“Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco.”
That’s what Belgian professor Olivier de Schutter of the World Health Organization (WHO) told the organization’s annual summit. It’s also a pretty bold statement considering tobacco has been held as one of the highest risks to global health for years.
He went on to say, “Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed.”
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
- Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, and is responsible for 5 million deaths per year worldwide.
- By reducing tobacco use by 50 percent, risk of dying from the four main NCDs would drop by 24 percent in men and 20 percent in women.
A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report about cigarette use gives us cause for celebration. However, upon reading the entire report, we realize it’s a small, temporary celebration.
The research regarding cigarette use was released in the August issue of Morbidity and Mortality Report. The report states that Americans have decreased their cigarette use by 32.8 percent over the last 12 years. This news is fantastic as the numbers show a constant decline in smoking, giving hope that people are finally letting go of such a harmful habit.
The celebration is cut short, though, when all of the facts regarding tobacco are revealed. While cigarette smoking has decreased, a constant increase in other forms of combustible tobacco use has taken place. During the same 12-year period, the use of pipe tobacco and cigars have seen a 96.9 percent increase.
It seems fair to assume that tax laws were the reason for this shift. The taxes on pipe tobacco and cigars are lower than the rates on cigarettes. It doesn’t seem like anyone really quit smoking, they just switched their products to save money. (more…)
35 million people die each year due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The major risk factors causing these diseases are tobacco use, alcohol use, and poor diet. Two of these factors are regulated by the government: tobacco and alcohol. Professionals are now arguing that sugar is the other main culprit of these diseases and should also be put through the same regulations as alcohol and tobacco.
In the past 50 years the worldwide sugar consumption has tripled. This has contributed to an obesity epidemic. As a result, there are now 30 percent more obese people in the world than malnourished people.
Just in America alone, people are consuming nearly 500 calories a day in added sugar. That’s not naturally occuring sugars like the ones found in fruit, but food and drink with sugar specifically added in. Soda is a major source of this added sugar as the average American is is consuming 57 gallons of soda a year, over half on which is not diet or sugar free soda.
Years ago, Alanis Morissette caught some flack for not understanding irony. If you need refreshing, her song Ironic was filled with lines that were put forth as irony, but were really just some bad luck.
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Anyway, Alanis, if you’re reading this – here is irony:
Researchers from Stanford University in California think they may have found a treatment for cancer using tobacco. They are using tobacco plants for an antibody chemical specific to the cells which cause follicular B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The BBC explains more about this interesting development.