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Unhealthy diet and lifestyle shorten our life expectancy


In the UK, seven out of ten deaths are due to diet and lifestyle
Our life expectancy has increased significantly in recent decades. But which aspects of our life actually have a negative impact on our life expectancy? Researchers have now found that our lifestyle and an unhealthy diet are currently the greatest threat to our overall life expectancy.

Public Health England researchers found that our diet and lifestyle have a huge impact on life expectancy. About seven out of ten deaths are due to these circumstances. The doctors published the results of the so-called Global Burden of Disease study in the specialist journal "The Lancet".

Researchers analyze the data from the Global Burden of Disease study
The Global Burden of Disease study found a general increase in life expectancy in almost 200 countries. The reasons for this are, for example, improvements in hygiene and immunization, say the experts. The study collected data from over 249 causes of death, 315 diseases and injuries. In addition, 79 other risk factors in 195 countries were examined between 1990 and 2015.

Poor nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle endanger our lives
While deaths from infectious diseases such as malaria and flu have dropped significantly, the proportion of deaths from an unhealthy lifestyle has increased. A few years ago, most countries were still very concerned about the effects of infections such as HIV, malaria and measles. Today, the effects of poor nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle are a major threat to our health, says Professor John Newton of Public Health England.

Increase in deaths from non-infectious diseases
Overall, 71.3 percent of deaths in the past year were caused by non-infectious diseases. This is a massive increase compared to 1990. Here the value was still 57.6 percent, the authors explain. Such diseases include conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All of these diseases are affected by our diet and lifestyle, the scientists add.

High blood pressure has become the biggest risk factor for premature death
The scientists also found that high blood pressure is the biggest risk factor (9 percent) for premature death. This is often triggered by obesity and a lack of exercise. Other causes include smoking (6.3 percent), high blood sugar (6.1 percent) and a high body mass index (5 percent).

More and more people are suffering from type 2 diabetes
While there is tremendous progress in treating infectious diseases, there is also an increase in diseases, disabilities and even deaths related to an unhealthy lifestyle, Professor Newton explains. For example, poor nutrition increases diseases such as type 2 diabetes. In the past ten years, an increase of about 60 percent has been observed with this disease. Obesity is now on the way to even overtaking smoking as the leading cause of cancer, the expert reports.

We need more research and a rethinking of the health system
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UK, followed by Alzheimer's and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There has been significant progress in reducing child and maternal deaths. This leads to an extension of the overall life expectancy. But in addition to this progress, there are now new health challenges, say the doctors. In their view, some of these challenges require more research and a rethink of our healthcare system. However, some changes would have to be implemented by the citizens themselves to enable a healthier lifestyle. (as)

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