Growing up, current generations heard that the greatest health threats worldwide were things like starvation, epidemics, and drought. While these things continue to plague mankind, there is now a newer problem that has surpassed these old disasters. The number one threat to human life on the planet today is the crisis of chronic disease.
Just how bad has the crisis of chronic disease become?
The World Health Organization has declared chronic diseases the number one killer on the planet. Chronic disease is now the cause of over fifty percent of deaths worldwide. Furthermore, the death toll currently caused by chronic disease continues to increase steadily.
Facts about chronic disease from the World Health Organization:
- Chronic diseases are now the major cause of death and disability worldwide. Noncommunicable conditions, including cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, obesity, cancer and respiratory diseases, now account for 59% of the 57 million deaths annually and 46% of the global burden of disease.
- A relatively few risk factors – high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and alcohol – cause the majority of the chronic disease burden.
- A change in dietary habits, physical activity and tobacco control, have a major impact in reducing the rates of these chronic diseases, often in a relatively short time.
- Heart attacks and strokes kill about 12 million people every year; another 3.9 million die from hypertensive and other heart conditions.
- More than one billion adults worldwide are overweight; at least 300 million of them are clinically obese.
- About 75% of CVD can be attributed to the majority risks: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, low fruit and vegetable intake, inactive lifestyle and tobacco.
- Sustained behavioural interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing population risk factors.
Chronic diseases include things like heart disease and strokes, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and dementia, and many others. These diseases are widely understood to be the result of our modern lifestyle choices. Over the past several decades, research has shown that these chronic illnesses are preventable in large part if we learn to make different choices. In other words, if we live differently.
Predictions for the future are that this chronic illness crisis, as bad as it is today, will get much worse. Cancer rates have been predicted to go up by 50% by the year 2020. One in three children born in the USA today will develop diabetes. And research continues to show our toxic modern lifestyle is the cause.
Sadly, many diseases we are suffering from today were largely preventable if we knew what to do differently ahead of time. The same applies to our health in the future. If we act now, many of these chronic diseases are avoidable if we change how we live our lives. More