What are the biggest threats to our health and how do we fix them?

Key Takeaways

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCD) like heart disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes cause 70% of all deaths worldwide each year.
  • One of the greatest challenges in dealing with non-communicable diseases is that they are often present without any specific or obvious symptoms.
  • Health and wellbeing are highly multi-factored concepts that cover all aspects of our life, and mental health plays a crucial role.
  • Obesity is a crucial contributor to the current prevalence of NCD, and understanding how and why we become overweight and what we can do about it are key factors in managing our health.Our risk for NCD is not inevitable, and our lifestyles play a decisive role.

 

Do you know your systolic and diastolic blood pressure, or even what those terms mean? When was the last time you got your cholesterol levels checked? Are you aware of the role of diet and exercise in type 2 diabetes? If you don’t, you definitely should – your long-term health depends on it.

Welcome to the first chapter in our series diving into the intricacies of the most common health conditions worldwide.

We aim to give you the ‘need to know’ on statistics, causes, effects and solutions for each disease.

Knowledge is one of the most common barriers to reducing our risk for chronic disease, and with this series of articles, our goal is to bridge this gap.

What are the biggest threats to our health?

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) like heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes cause 70% of all deaths worldwide each year, accounting for 41 million people, and are considered among the top 10 threats to global health.

One in eight people dies early due to diabetes. Men and women with high blood pressure live on average five years less than those with healthy blood pressure.

These are early deaths that are eminently preventable with the right lifestyle changes and actions in place.

 

Silent Killers

One of the greatest challenges in dealing with non-communicable diseases is that they are often present without any specific or obvious symptoms. Lack of diagnosis seems to be one factor attributing to the current epidemic of NCDs.

As many as 50% of diabetics go undiagnosed, and one in three individuals will not even know that they have high blood pressure.

Due to the silent nature of these diseases, education and awareness are key tools to reduce an upward trend in prevalence.

Poor Mental Health

When we think of what health means to us, most of us focus on physical function. However, health and wellbeing are highly multi-factored concepts that cover all aspects of our lives to influence their quality.

There are long-established powerful links between physical and psychological health, with modern, stressful lifestyles often synonymous with poor mental and physical wellbeing.

Furthermore, multiple correlations exist between poor mental health and chronic disease. More than four million people in England with long-term physical health conditions also have mental health problems, and those living with chronic disease are more likely to suffer from poor mental health.

A Global Obesity Epidemic

Obesity seems to be another key contributor to the current prevalence of NCD. The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, and as of 2016, more than 2.1 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese.

If current trends continue, experts estimate that by the year 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will be overweight or obese. Obesity is problematic as it is strongly associated with most NCDs and contributes significantly to disease risk. Approximately 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. Obesity also accounts for around 65-75% of the risk profile for high blood pressure. While genetics plays a role, obesity is preventable and ‘curable’. Understanding how and why we over-eat is a crucial step towards understanding what to do to control our weight.

You Can Take Back Control of your Health

It is hard to deny that these facts seem bleak…because they are. Fortunately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Chronic disease is not inevitable and our lifestyles play a decisive role in breaking this cycle.

While most people think of gyms and healthy eating only in relation to six-pack abs and toned thighs, they offer far more value to our long-term health.

Regular exercise, healthy eating, good quality sleep, and effective stress management are all cornerstones to good health and successful management of chronic disease risk.

We don’t need to train like an Olympian to benefit either. We can still eat out, drink wine, and enjoy lazy Sundays all while maintaining our health.

But, knowledge and action are what we need to move the needle. Our mission is to bridge this gap.

Stay tuned each month for a new instalment in the series, where we will look at everything from the causes and treatment for diabetes, the impact of sleep on blood pressure, to cholesterol, and more.

In the meantime, have a read of Ultimate Performance’s 5 top nutrition tips that will keep you lean and healthy … forever.