Noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors

Tenfold increase in childhood and adolescent obesity in four decades

A young obese girl, eating hamburger

11 October 2017– The number of obese children and adolescents (aged five to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades. If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022, according to a new study led by Imperial College London and WHO. Children and adolescents have rapidly transitioned from mostly underweight to mostly overweight in many middle-income countries, including in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

WHO to establish high-level commission on noncommunicable diseases

10 October 2017-Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced today the establishment of a new High-level global Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). The announcement came at the 64th Session of WHO’s Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean being held in Islamabad, 9-12 October.

70th World Health Assembly adopts resolution endorsing update of Appendix 3

On 31 May a resolution was adopted endorsing an updated list of evidence-based and cost-effective interventions for the prevention and control of NCDs. The list, featured as Appendix 3 of the WHO Global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013-2020, was revised based on new evidence using WHO-CHOICE. From a total of 88 proposed interventions, the updated Appendix 3 contains 16 interventions which are considered the most cost-effective and feasible for implementation. Among them are enacting and enforcing comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising; increasing excise taxes on alcoholic beverages; reducing salt intake through the reformulation of food products; offering drug therapy and counselling to those who have had a heart attack or stroke; vaccinating girls aged 9-13 years against human papillomavirus; and screening women aged 30-49 years for cervical cancer.

Uruguay President, WHO to stage global conference on NCDs


From 18-20 October, 2017, world leaders will meet in Montevideo, Uruguay, to promote health and national development through taking action to beat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. WHO, the Office of the President of Uruguay, and that country’s Ministry of Health are organizing the Global Conference on NCDs.

ECOSOC’s latest Task Force resolution calls for more investment in NCDs

The UN Interagency Task Force on NCDs logo over an image from an ECOSOC meeting.
UN Television

7 June 2017 -- To accelerate global and national responses to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has called for greater financing to respond to the global epidemics of heart and lung diseases, cancers and diabetes, including providing sufficient resources for the work of the UN NCD Task Force.

UN Task Force on NCDs: operationalising national plans on noncommunicable diseases prevention and control in Bhutan

UNIATF mission meets Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minster of Bhutan, February 2017.
PM/Bhutan Office

10 February 2017 -- Reducing harmful alcohol use, and improving diet and nutrition in Bhutan were among key areas focused on by the first joint mission to the country by the United Nations Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The task force visited Bhutan from 6-10 February to support the government in tackling NCDs - principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases and NCD-related conditions.

Walk the Talk: WHO Healthy Work Place Initiative

Walk the Talk: a WHO Healthy Work Place Initiative

9 February 2017 -- ‘Walk the Talk: a WHO Healthy Work Place Initiative’ was launched at WHO headquarters and regional offices on the 19 January 2016. The initiative aims to promote healthy lifestyles in the workplace and reflects the commitment of WHO staff to set an example by following the recommendations set forward to Member States. A comprehensive strategy for a healthy workplace addresses a broad range of health issues, including physical activity, occupational health and safety and nutrition. The initiative is taken forward by the ‘Staff Health Safety and Wellbeing’ committee.

Worldwide, 81% of school-aged children are not active enough

A young girl breaks a red ribbon as she wins a run race in India

1 February 2017 -- A lack of physical activity is a significant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Less and less physical activity is occurring in many countries. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body. Some physical activity is better than none. WHO's Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020, calls for a 10% reduction in physical inactivity by 2025..

What are noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors?

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide. Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths, and 82% of the 16 million people who died prematurely, or before reaching 70 years of age, occur in low- and middle-income countries. The rise of NCDs has been driven by primarily four major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.

Explore WHO’s work on preventing, managing and coordinating action to prevent and control NCDs through this website.

Prevention of noncommunicable diseases

Reducing the major risk factors for noncommunicable diseases – tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol – is the focus of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of NCDs.

Management of noncommunicable diseases

NCDs – including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – kill 38 million people every year. Prevention of NCDs is important. However, investing in better management is the other key component of the NCD response.

Surveillance of noncommunicable diseases

Public health monitoring or surveillance activities comprise the regular collection of health information in terms of health indicators, the routinely analysis of indicators over time, place and between population groups, sharing of available scientific knowledge as well as the regular dissemination of results.

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