Review

Can Noncommunicable Diseases Be Prevented? Lessons from Studies of Populations and Individuals

Science  21 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6101, pp. 1482-1487
DOI: 10.1126/science.1227001

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Abstract

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)—mainly cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases—are responsible for about two-thirds of deaths worldwide, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. There is an urgent need for policies and strategies that prevent NCDs by reducing their major risk factors. Effective approaches for large-scale NCD prevention include comprehensive tobacco and alcohol control through taxes and regulation of sales and advertising; reducing dietary salt, unhealthy fats, and sugars through regulation and well-designed public education; increasing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains by lowering prices and improving availability; and implementing a universal, effective, and equitable primary-care system that reduces NCD risk factors, including cardiometabolic risk factors and infections that are precursors to NCDs, through clinical interventions.

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