The 2013-2020 World Health Organization Global Action Plan for the prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) targets seven major risk factors, comprising current tobacco use, insufficient physical activity, raised blood pressure, intake of salt or sodium, diabetes, obesity, and the harmful use of alcohol. These are referred to as the 25×25 risk factors, with the aim of reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by 25% by 2025.

Similarly, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2015, the largest study monitoring health changes globally, performs an annual risk assessment of the burden of disease attributable to 79 risk factors in 195 countries. This study lists the top 10 global risk factors as being:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Smoking
  3. High body-mass index (overweight & obesity)
  4. Childhood undernutrition
  5. High fasting plasma glucose (diabetes)
  6. Alcohol use
  7. Household air pollution
  8. Unsafe water
  9. Unsafe sex
  10. Low fruit consumption

This is based on ‘disability-adjusted life years’ (DALYs), a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. This ranking is for all countries, both sexes, and all ages – so your personal risks may be different.

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