The world we live in is a rapidly changing entity in which one must learn to adapt to its rhythm and dynamics in order to circumvent the untoward effects that emanate from nature versus nurture with environmental factors playing an unprecedented role

One such concern is the chronic diseases that seem to be increasing steadily over the years. The number of people coming down with chronic disease especially young people is very alarming

Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. They are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.

The World Health Report 2002: Reducing risks, promoting healthy life, indicates that the mortality, morbidity and disability attributed to the major chronic diseases accounted for almost 60% of all deaths and 43% of the global burden of disease.

And it was projected that by 2020 their contribution is expected to rise to 73% of all deaths and 60% of the global burden of disease. This data may vary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, 79% of the deaths attributed to these chronic diseases is said to occur in developing countries.

Four of the most prominent chronic diseases are cardiovascular diseases (CVD), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and type 2 diabetes.

They are linked by common and preventable biological risk factors, notably high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and overweight, and by related major behavioural risk factors such as unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, use of tobacco and exposure to second-hand smoke


The WHO/FAO Experts examined the science base of the relationship between diet and physical activity patterns, and the major nutrition-related chronic diseases and their key findings are as follows;

Obesity: the imbalance between declining energy expenditure due to physical inactivity and high energy in the diet (excess calories whether from sugar, starches or fat) is the main determinant of the obesity epidemic. Increasing physical activity, plus reducing intakes of foods high in fat and foods and drinks high in sugars, can prevent unhealthy weight gain. Taking these simple goals to concrete action requires major social and environmental changes in order to effectively promote and support healthier choices at the individual level.

Diabetes: excess weight gain, overweight and obesity and physical inactivity account for the escalating rates of type 2 diabetes, worldwide. Diabetes leads to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and infections. Increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight play critical roles in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Cardiovascular diseases: cardiovascular diseases, the major killers worldwide, are to a great extent due to unbalanced diets and physical inactivity. Risk of their main forms, heart disease and stroke, is reduced by eating less saturated and trans fats, and sufficient amounts of (n-3 and n-6) polyunsaturated fats, fruits and vegetables and less salt, as well as by physical activity and controlling weight. Reduction of salt intake helps reduce blood pressure, a major cause of cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer: tobacco is the number one cause of cancer, but dietary factors contribute significantly to some types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the risk for cancers of the oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Limiting alcohol intake will reduce the risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver and breast. Ensuring an adequate intake of fruit and vegetables should further reduce the risk for oral cavity, oesophagus, stomach and colorectal cancer.

Osteoporosis and bone fractures: fragility fractures are a problem of older people. Adequate intakes of calcium (500 mg per day or more) and of vitamin D in populations with high osteoporosis rates helps to reduce fracture risk, so does sun exposure and physical activity to strengthen bones and muscles.

Dental disease: caries is preventable by limiting the frequency and amount of consumption of sugars and by appropriate exposure to fluoride. Erosion of teeth by dietary acids in beverages or other acidic foods may contribute to tooth destruction.

The crucial role of physical activity as part of nutrition and health was acknowledged. Physical activity is a key determinant of energy expenditure, and thus fundamental to energy balance and weight control. The beneficial effects of physical activity on the metabolic syndrome are mediated by mechanisms beyond controlling excess body weight.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *