Lifestyle disease which may also be referred to as Non-Communicable Disease, has in recent times become an issue of grave concern for governments both globally and regionally. The World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary-General, during a General Assembly Summit (first ever summit on deadly chronic illnesses) in 2011 deemed in a statement “…the spread of non-communicable diseases as a socio-economic and development challenge of epidemic proportions…” . In another report from WHO, Dr. Ala Alwan, the organization’s Director-General for non-communicable diseases further states, “lifestyle diseases are responsible for 63 percent of global deaths based on WHO’s estimates for 2008.” Here in the Caribbean Governments have begun taking steps to arrest the problem of lifestyle disease through an initial Heads of Government meeting of Caricom held in September 2007 to “start a campaign to galvanise the Region against the scourge of such disorders as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack and some kinds of cancer.” So what is meant by the term lifestyle disease? Lifestyle disease has been defined as being a disease that is associated with the way an individual or group of people live their lives and can be caused by such factors as poor diet and nutrition, lack of exercise and chronic stress. Poor diet and nutrition is a major cause of lifestyle disease in both adults and children. Individuals in these modern times live a “fast-paced lifestyle” and have become “wrapped up in raking in the moolah” and take very little time to nourish their bodies properly.
Many persons now eat out more often than before, consuming a lot of ‘fast food’ and ‘junk food’ with high salt content and saturated fat. Individuals are also consuming more meat and eating less fruits and vegetables and getting less fibre in their diets. Many persons also because of their busyness skip meals causing many to overeat and others due to their circumstances may under eat therefore not getting proper or enough nutrients into their bodies. The drinks being consumed also contribute to poor nutrition. The sodas individuals drink especially children have high sugar content which is not healthy. The habitual consumption of alcoholic drinks can also affect one’s health in a negative way. What one eats is important to one’s health and the practice of poor nutrition and diet can have negative long term effects on one’s health such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Another major contributor to lifestyle disease is lack of exercise. According to WHO, “physical inactivity causes 2 million deaths a year worldwide”.
In a world where one has access to many types of exercise gadgets and various exercise videos, individuals fail to avail themselves with these devices and have become lazy, and lead more sedentary lives. People including children now choose to spend more time indoors instead of going outside and doing any kind of physical activity to stimulate the heart. They are either watching television or sitting in front of a computer playing or working, or on a tablet or phone for many hours at a time. Many persons even in the work place do not use the stairs and instead choose to use the elevator or escalator to move from one floor to the next. It is said that laughter is the best medicine but do you know that exercise can cause your body to release chemicals that cheer you up? The human body was meant to move and lack of physical activity can lead to such health issues as obesity, lack of energy, stress and it can also affect the heart. Lifestyle disease is associated with the daily habits of people and is a direct result of the lifestyle someone lives. It can be caused by several factors such as bad food habits, physical inactivity and stress, all of which negatively affect one’s body thus contributing to disease.
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