Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Three. What works: the evidence for action

Chapter One. A strategy to achieve rapid results

A strategy to achieve rapid results

Population-wide approaches seek to reduce the risks throughout the entire population. They address the causes rather than the consequences of chronic diseases and are central to attempts to prevent the emergence of future epidemics. Small reductions in the exposure of the population to risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity lead to population-level reductions in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and body weight. More fundamentally, interventions are also required to address the underlying determinants of chronic disease, as described in Part Two.

Interventions for individuals focus on people who are at high risk and those with established chronic disease. These interventions reduce the risk of developing chronic disease, reduce complications, and improve quality of life.

Key messages
  • Rapid health gains can be achieved with comprehensive and integrated action.
  • In this way, many countries and regions have already successfully curbed chronic diseases.

Population-wide and individual approaches are complementary. They should be combined as part of a comprehensive strategy that serves the needs of the entire population and has an impact at the individual, community and national levels. Comprehensive approaches should also be integrated: covering all the major risk factors and cutting across specific diseases.