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Table 3 Lifestyle and health

From: The health impacts of globalisation: a conceptual framework

Lifestyle factor

Health effects


Excess energy intake results, together with physical activity, in obesity. Obesity is an increasing health problem and has several co-morbidities such as non-insulin dependent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases [49]. The nutritional quality of the diet (e.g. fruit and vegetable intake, saturated versus unsaturated fats) is also very important for good health.


Physical inactivity has been linked to obesity, coronary hearth disease, hypertension, strokes, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and osteoporotic fractures [49].


Tobacco is predicted to be the leading health risk factor by 2030 [50]. It causes, for example, cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung [49], and cardiovascular diseases.

Alcohol use

The consumption of alcoholic beverages increases to risk on liver cirrhosis, raised blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, pancreatitis and cancers of the oropharnix, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, liver and rectum [49]. The role of alcohol consumption in non-communicable disease epidemiology is, however, complex. For example, small amounts of alcohol reduce the risk on cardiovascular diseases, while drinking larger amounts is an important cause of these very same diseases [51].

Illicit drugs

According to the World Health Report 2001 [52], 0,4 % of the total disease burden is attributable to illicit drugs (heroin and cocaine). Opiate users can have overall mortality rate up to 20 percent higher than those in the general population of the same age, due to not only overdoses but also to accidents, suicides, AIDS and other infectious diseases [49].