It is a known fact that lifestyle choices affect our health and that the best cure to ill-health is prevention. NCPADD endorses the theme of World Health Day 2023 – Health for All.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are commonplace in this era They are lifestyle diseases that are preventable. What does lifestyle disease mean you asked?
Well, basically it refers to disease acquired from the learnt unhealthy behavioral patterns that are passed on from person to person, usually parent to child and the cycle continues with each generation suffering from a specific disease or group of diseases which a few decades ago were believed to be ‘genetic”.
However, if one person changes and adopts healthy patterns of behavior, there appears a gap in that genetic predisposition theory.
NCDs are chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, chronic respiratory illnesses, kidney disease, preventable cancers, arthritis, injuries and mental health conditions.
They are not caused by an acute infection and generally require long, drawn out, expensive medical care and treatments. Such diseases burden the family, national systems and expenditure budgets.
Interestingly, diet and habits become a focus of attention by doctors and suffers in the treatment and care stages of NCD management. High intake of salts and sugars, artificial colors and preservatives / nitrates, taste enhancers, “natural” flavors to name a few, all contribute to the risk of some NCD.
The consumption of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, crack, cocaine, and party drugs; the habitual exposure to secondhand smoke; misuse of over-the-counter medicines, the sharing of prescribed drugs and self-medicating on painkillers are risky behaviors that can lead to chronic diseases.
Still not convinced? Here are some noteworthy facts outlined by Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO):
In a given year in the Americas,
- NCDs kill 5.5 million persons
- 2 million of the dead are 30-69 years old
- 85% are from middle and low income countries
- 41 million die from NCDs representing 71% of all deaths
- 9 million die from cardiovascular diseases
- 0 million from cancers
- 9 million from respiratory diseases
- 6 million from diabetes;
- all four diseases accounting for 80% of premature deaths.
- Drinking alcohol, smoking, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits increase the risk of dying from an NCD.
- Tobacco causes over 7.2 million deaths each year inclusive of second-hand smoke
- 1 million die from excessive intake of salt/sodium
- At least half of the 3.3 million deaths caused by drinking alcohol are from NCDs, including cancer.
- 6 million die due to poor exercise
The saying that you are what you eat is relevant today as it was yesterday.
A key fact is that NCDs are easily preventable. Yes, that’s right! The easiest way to treat a condition is to simply prevent the condition in the first place. Where poor choices have already been made, actions must be taken to break and change the habits. Exercise, healthy diet, adequate water intake and quitting smoking and alcohol use can help reverse the harmful impact of NCDs.
By modifying our negative behaviors, replacing unhealthy lifestyle practices with healthy options, we are well on our way to good health for all.
NCPADD seeks to promote sustainable lifestyle practices that deter the use and misuse of all harmful substances through education, empowerment, collaboration and advocacy. Join us in our vision to inspire and empower all to make healthy choices. Remember, prevention is the cure. Your health is in your hand.
SOURCE: National Committee for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency
The private sector, faith-based groups, and PTAs should all be involved with the Health Ministry and the NCPADD in conducting programmes to empower people to make healthy choices.
Several Health Awareness Days are coming up soon that allow for Health Education programmes and initiatives. These include:
+ World Hypertension Day on May 17
+ World No Tobacco Day on May 31
+ Caribbean Nutrition Day on June 1.