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Preventing non-communicable diseases

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Within the framework of the alliance ACCIS-Global, among CRESIB, CREAL and IS-Global, and within the joint program for research and transfer, we have initiated a series of Global Health Lectures with the aim of bringing world's top scholars in global health to Barcelona to share their research with the ACCIS-Global community and other researchers.

The first of the four Global Health Lectures for this year took place on March 20th at the PRBB Auditorium, at 12pm, by Prof. Neal Pearce, Director of the Centre for Global Non-communicable Disease, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London (UK). He talked about “Preventing global non-communicable diseases through low carbon development”.

The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represents a big threat to populations and health systems across the globe. At the same time, the impacts of climate change are predicted to have profound public health effects and demand urgent transition to low-carbon economies. Although important synergies exist in the causes and efforts to tackle these major health threats, they have received limited attention to date.

Big causes of the environmental exposures

The poverty and development are some of the big causes of the environmental exposures. Also the urban design has a great impact in the movement through the city and the obesity and practice of sports. The obesity trends have increased in USA during the last decades, up to 30% in most of the states. The suburban sprawl is designed in a way that walking is becoming impossible or very dangerous. “We get used to go everywhere in car or other transports, not by foot”, said the researcher. Another problem is the prepared meals. The time for physical activity is only a small part of the total physical energy expenditure.

Management of NCDs

There are three stands of global health and NCDs: combating climate change, sustainable development and preventing NCDs. There are health co-benefits in developing sustainable projects. Bicycling gives important health benefits. “If you practice regular sport, you can gain up to 32 weeks of life”, said the researcher.

Also, the sustainable diet, that means low environmental impacts, contributes to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. The air pollution produces a million deaths every year.

“In London, you don’t need the car. The public transport is good, and you can go walking. Public transport is cheaper than private in car”, affirm Pearce. The researcher showed a video about a street in London where children can play without the risk of being injured by the cars.

“A real strength would be people working together in the management of NCDs exposure and see the situation in each country”, said the researcher.

“In brief, for the management of NCDs one is to identify the causes of the diseases and, in other hand, is about to change the attitudes of the people. Education has a big role here. Don’t you think?”, asked the researcher. “It is important that people think about the health issues”, concluded the speaker.


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