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Lifestyle - the new health threat

Wednesday September 21st, 2011

Obesity, tobacco and excess alcohol pose as much a threat to world health as infectious diseases did in the last century, a British politician has told the United Nations.

As the UN gathered to discuss the problem of so-called non-communicable diseases, UK health secretary Andrew Lansley said lack of exercise, poor diet and changing lifestyles posed major health challenges.

Mr Lansley told the UN gathering in New York, USA: "More than half a century ago, our predecessors came together to tackle infectious diseases: the greatest health challenges of their day.

"Today, we face new challenges from obesity, lung disease and alcohol-related diseases. These are inextricably linked to the way we live our lives. They are just as widespread, just as chronic and increasingly threaten early mortality and disability."

He added: "I hope that in decades to come, our successors will look back and see that now was when the tide began to turn, that with progress and development, came not only opportunity and increased life expectancy, but healthy life expectancy."

Meanwhile a Scottish university was celebrating recognition at the UN for its work on world health.

University representatives were invited to New York to endorse a new strategy for the health of children and women.

Aberdeen University is one of about 100 institutions worldwide to take part in the signing.

Its Immpact research unit seeks to improve the health of mothers and new-born babies in poor countries.

Immpact head Professor Wendy Graham said: “For almost ten years, Immpact has worked with UN agencies, governments and research partners across more than 20 of the poorest countries in the world to strengthen the evidence for action to reduce the burden of disease among mothers and newborns."

Medsin, the university's student medical association is backing the project.

Medical student Eilidh McIntyre, who is coordinating the campaign for Medsin, said: "It is unusual for student bodies to have the opportunity to contribute and feel part of major global health initiatives, and we are delighted to have had this chance to link with the United Nations."

Tags: Diet & Food | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Fitness | UK News | World Health

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