SEOUL, Sept 14, 2007 (AFP) – World deaths from “lifestyle” diseases will double by 2015 unless all-out efforts are taken to combat them, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Friday. It said about 17 million people die prematurely each year as a result of the global epidemic of largely preventable chronic diseases — the leading cause of death in the world today.
“Unless national interventions are urgently taken to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases, 36 million people will die of these diseases by 2015, nearly half of them before they turn 70,” said Shigeru Omi, director of the WHO regional committee for the Western Pacific.
The committee Friday was winding up a five-day meeting in the southern South Korean island of Jeju.
In 2005 the WHO set a global goal of reducing the projected trend of chronic disease death rates by two percent each year until 2015.
High on the list are cardiovascular diseases — mainly heart disease and stroke — cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and obesity.
The vast majority of cases are caused by a small number of known and preventable risk factors.
Three of the most important are unhealthy diet, physical in