Food and Nutrition-Related Diseases: the Global Challenge

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Economic development, education, food security, and
access to health care and immunization programs
in developed countries have resulted in dramatic
decreases in undernutrition-related diseases. Unfortunately, many of these factors have also led to
unhealthy behaviors, inappropriate diets, and lack of
physical activity, which has exacerbated the development
of chronic diseases, also known as noncommunicable
diseases (NCDs). These NCDs are now the
main contributors to the health burden in developed
countries (these are countries with established market
economies).
In 2002, 28.2 million global deaths (58.6%) were
from NCDs. In the same year the predicted mortality
for 2020 was 49.6 million (72.6% of all deaths). This
is an increase from 448 to 548 deaths per 100,000,
despite an overall downward trend in mortality rates.
Although the burden will fall increasingly on developing
Countries NCDs remain the major cause
of death in developed countries.

The NCDs that are related to diet and nutrient intakes
are obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, ischemic
heart disease, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular
disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus (type 2), osteoporosis,
liver cirrhosis, dental caries, and nutrition-induced
cancers of the breast, colon, and stomach. They
develop over time in genetically susceptible individuals
because of exposure to interrelated societal,
behavioral, and biological risk factors. Together with
tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and physical inactivity,
an unhealthy or inappropriate diet is an important
modifiable risk factor for NCDs. Diet, therefore, plays
a major role in prevention and treatment of NCDs.
NCDs are sometimes called “chronic diseases,” but
some infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and
tuberculosis are also chronic. They have also been
called “diseases of affluence,” which is a misnomer
because in developed, affluent countries, they are
more common in lower socioeconomic groups. Some
scientists...
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