UK & World News
Healthier Lifestyles 'Could Stop 37m Deaths'
Healthier lifestyles could prevent 37 million deaths worldwide over the next 15 years, according to the first study of its kind.
The analysis shows that by tackling just six major risk factors the chances of dying prematurely from cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung disease would be dramatically reduced.
Researchers from Imperial College London looked at the effect of reducing tobacco use by 30%, alcohol intake by 10%, salt consumption by 30%, high blood pressure by 25% and halting the rise in obesity and diabetes.
Meeting the targets would reduce deaths in men by 22% and women by 19% in 2025 compared to what they were in 2010.
That's equivalent to delaying or preventing 21 million deaths in people over 70 and another 16 million deaths in younger people, according to results in The Lancet medical journal.
The United Nations wants to reduce premature deaths from chronic diseases by 25% by 2025 - the so-called 25x25 target.
Professor Majid Ezzati, the lead researcher, told Sky News that most of the benefits would be in poor countries.
"If we just keep going as we have been - with no action - we should expect the 28 million premature deaths today to reach 39 million," he said.
"Part of that is because there will be more people but it's a large increase in deaths. That's a large burden on the health systems of the countries."
Political will and substantial funding have reduced the burden of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.
Prof John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said similar action is now needed for chronic diseases.
"It really needs bold leadership," he said.
"It can't be left to millions of individual lifestyle decisions.
"Individuals have responsibility for their own lifestyles to an extent, but governments have huge responsibility for making it possible for people to make the right choices."