Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. The harmful use of alcohol has resulted in 2.5 million deaths around the world each year, while lung cancer has claimed 1.18 million lives each year.
Smoking, drinking, a sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits are the main cause of death in Sri Lanka, said Palitha Mahipala, assistant secretary in the Health Ministry, as he announced a LKR 300 million (US$ 2.3 million) prevention and public awareness campaign.
In a population of 21 million, 56 per cent of all deaths are due to cardio-vascular diseases and injuries sustained in accidents, 10.6 per cent to smoking and 26 per cent to lack of exercise. “While 1,250 births occur per day in the country, nearly 1,000 deaths are reported,” he said. “Of these, 65 per cent are due to non-communicable diseases” like premature heart diseases, strokes, cancer and diabetes.
Bad eating habits are a leading cause of non-communicable diseases: 39.2 per cent of all deaths are due to high blood pressure, 8.8 per cent to high blood glucose, and 21.9 per cent to obesity.
Such health problems can be prevented or controlled to a great extent if people led healthy lifestyles, Mahipala said.
The government plans seminars to educate youth leaders in 25 districts. Two youth leaders will be selected in each district to raise public awareness.