Here’s a sobering statistic: According to the World Health Organization, diseases linked to lifestyle choices kill 16 million people prematurely each year. Which makes poor habits the leading cause of death worldwide. In fact, as the lead author of the report put it, an unhealthy lifestyle is “a much greater public health threat than any other epidemic known to man.”
And for once, they’re pinpointing the right culprits—namely poor diet (with too much sugar and the wrong kinds of fats), as well as excessive drinking and smoking.
In other words, the No.1 cause of death—the biggest threat to public health—is entirely preventable. It’s more than a little maddening. But there’s a silver lining here.
If poor choices increase your risk of premature death, it stands to reason that making better ones—starting today—will reverse that risk. It’s never too late to make your health a top priority.
The 16 million number, by the way, isn’t the whole story. The WHO’s definition of “premature” death only includes people under age 70. But as far as I’m concerned (and have seen first-hand) people in their 70s, 80s, and even beyond still have many more healthy, high-functioning years ahead of them.
And the sooner you adopt truly healthy habits—ditching sugar, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods, and getting some physical activity on a regular basis—the better your chance of securing a long, healthy future.
“Lifestyle diseases kill 16 million prematurely,” Yahoo News, 1/19/15