Tackling Europe’s Biggest Killers – Lifestyle Diseases
Addressing Key Challenges to European Health and Development in the 21st Century
The new formation of the European Society of Lifestyle Medicine reflects the European need for central leadership in lifestyle-related disease prevention and treatment.
Today, chronic diseases influenced by lifestyle factors, also known as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) represent a leading threat to human health and development. These diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and type-2-diabetes are Europe’s biggest killers, causing an estimated 36 million deaths each year worldwide - 60% of all deaths globally.
A large number of research studies have highlighted the shift from disease and death resulting from infection to chronic lifestyle-related diseases. Lifestyle-related diseases are preventable. According to the World Health Organization up to 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers could be prevented by improving lifestyle, mainly by avoiding tobacco use, eating a healthy and balanced diet, increasing physical activity, managing chronic psychological stress, and responsible consumption of alcohol.
Unless lifestyles are improved, these diseases will continue to increase. The World Health Organization projects that, globally, lifestyle-related deaths will increase by 17% over the next ten years. The greatest increase (25%) will be seen in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
The World Health Organization is making a clear statement: Proven cost-effective strategies to improve lifestyles exist. However, expert knowledge, high-level commitment and concrete action are often missing at the European level. Many misconceptions about the role of lifestyle factors in disease prevention and treatment are still present amongst both the general public and the health professional community. Lifestyle disease prevention programs remain dramatically under-funded at the national and global levels and have been left off the global development agenda.
The European Society of Lifestyle Medicine is providing leadership and education to address these key challenges to health and development in the 21st century. Working closely with other global organizations, the European Society of Lifestyle Medicine aims to prevent lifestyle diseases and to help the millions who are already affected to receive better treatment and improve their quality of life.
Paris, 25 February, 2014
European Society of Lifestyle Medicine ESLM