The way you live is likely to determine how long you will live. Diseases linked to lifestyle choices -- smoking, alcohol abuse, eating too much sugar, salt or fat, low activity levels and environmental toxins among others -- kill 16 million people prematurely each year, said the World Health Organisation.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and cancers killed 38 million people globally in 2012, with 16 million of those who died being under 70 years, said WHO's The Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014.
Nearly three in four of the deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. The problem is growing, particularly in the South-East Asia Region, where every two out of three deaths are caused by NCDs.
Lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers and respiratory diseases kill more people than infections, prompting the WHO to call it a 'slow-moving public health disaster'.
As many as 82% of the world's 16 million premature NCD deaths occur in poor and middle income countries, and most of them could be averted with just small investments, the report found.
"The global community has the chance to change the course of the NCD epidemic," WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.
Most of the premature NCD deaths can be prevented by promoting simple lifestyle changes and diet modifications. Banning all forms of tobacco and alcohol advertising, reducing salt consumption, replacing trans-fats with polyunsaturated fats, promoting and protecting breastfeeding, early detection and treatment of high blood pressure and preventing cervical cancer through periodic screening can lower premature NCD deaths by 25% between 2011 and 2025.If nothing is done to improve the situation, premature NCD deaths will suck $7.0 trillion out of the global economy over the next decade.