Tara Duthie, who lives in Stirling, Scotland tried to quit smoking four times in 5 years. Then, in 2015 aged just 49, she had a heart attack – it was a wake-up call she could not ignore. She started using an app to help her stop smoking which not only gave her information about physiological changes but also had little games that she could play to distract herself for the 3 or 4 minutes a craving for a cigarette would last.
Smart phone apps that help with lifestyle change are growing in popularity. However, few public health authorities have mechanisms in place to regulate their quality or have a strategy to guide how they could be used for health promotion.
According to the latest e-health report, “From innovation to implementation – e-health in the WHO European Region“, the health authorities of 22 countries in the Region promote the development and adoption of m-health (mobile health) in the health sector. Around a quarter (11 countries) report that their health authorities regulate mobile devices and software for quality, safety and reliability. In 7 countries the health authorities play no role in the development or adoption of m-health. The report further shows that, when governments sponsor m-health programmes, they are also more likely to provide incentives and guidance on innovation and evaluation, as well as regulation for their use.
For more information about mobile health and smoking on the euro.who.int website
16% of all deaths in adults over 30 in the WHO European Region are due to tobacco, which is one of the highest proportions in the world. This is in contrast to the African or the Eastern Mediterranean Regions, where the proportion is 3% and 7% respectively, and the global average is 12%.
In the Region, 22% of women smoke, which is a higher percentage than in Africa, Asia or the Middle East – all of which come in at around 3–5%. There is also very little difference in the number of smokers between men and women, especially in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In Sweden and Norway, there are actually more women smoking than men and more girls than boys are using tobacco in Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Slovenia.
To read more about tobacco statistics and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on the euro.who.int website.
Across the OECD, the risks of poverty have been shifting from the elderly towards youth since the 1980s. These developments accentuate the need to monitor the well-being of the most disadvantaged children, but income inequality also has far-reaching consequences for society, harming educational attainment, key health outcomes and even economic growth.
UNICEF has produced a report ‘Fairness for Children’ which contains league tables of inequality in child well-being in rich countries. It analyses the situation in 41 countries in the EU and OECD and focuses on ‘bottom-end inequality’ – the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle – and addresses the question ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’ in income, education, health and life satisfaction.
To read the full report on the unicef-irc.org website
The first WHO Global report on diabetes states that the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity.
In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths and its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.
The report calls on governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes. It encourages us all to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.
To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website
In Europe today, 6 of the 7 biggest risk factors for premature death – blood pressure, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse – relate to how we eat, drink and move.
In April 2016 a conference was held on ‘Diet, Physical Activity and Health: a European Platform for Action‘.
- teaching children to be media-literate
- responsible advertising
- helping consumers make more informed food choices
To see all the presentations on the ec.europa.eu website
The number of adults living with diabetes worldwide has almost quadrupled since 1980, to 422 million, according to the first WHO Global report on diabetes. An estimated 64 million people are now living with the disease in the WHO European Region.
The growing diabetes epidemic is strongly associated with increasing trends in overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and socioeconomic disadvantage. Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease, and simple changes to one’s lifestyle can be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of the disease and its complications, which can include cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs and even loss of life.
To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website
The latest statistics (2015) on road safety across the EU have just been released and they show remarkable progress over the last decade.
The UK scores well in improving road safety for children and the elderly. Between 2004 and 2013, fatalities of children (under 15 years of age) in the UK have fallen by almost 75% and those of older people (aged over 64) by a third. Over the same ten year period, UK cyclist fatalities have decreased by a third and those amongst pedestrians by two fifths.
However, year-on-year there is a slowdown in reducing the number of fatalities Europe-wide. Ultimately, the EU has set itself the ambitious target to reduce by half the number of fatalities between 2010 and 2020.
For more information about road safety across Europe from the ec.europa.eu website
The OECD has produced a paper examining the labour market impacts of lifestyle risk factors and associated chronic diseases, in terms of employment opportunities, wages, productivity, sick leave, early retirement and receipt of disability benefits.
It provides a review of the evidence of the labour market outcomes of key risk factors (obesity, smoking and hazardous drinking) and of a number of related chronic diseases, along with findings from new analyses conducted on data from a selection of OECD countries.
Some of its key findings include:
- Obesity and smoking clearly impair employment prospects, wages and labour productivity
- Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have negative impacts on employment prospects and wages, and diabetes, cancer and arthritis lower labour productivity
- Alcohol use, cancer, high blood pressure and arthritis have mixed effects on employment and wages, and are not always linked with increased sickness absence.
Finally, this paper stresses the importance of these findings for the economy at large, and supports the use of carefully designed chronic disease prevention strategies targeting people at higher risk of adverse labour market outcomes, which may lead to substantial gains in economic production through a healthier and more productive workforce.
To read the full report on the labour market impact on the oecd-ilibrary.org website
There are now more adults in the world classified as obese than underweight, according to a major study led by scientists from Imperial College London.
They compared body mass index (BMI) among almost 20 million adult men and women from 1975 to 2014 and found that obesity in men has tripled and more than doubled in women.
The study, which pooled data from adults in 186 countries, found that the number of obese people worldwide had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014. Meanwhile the number of underweight people had risen from 330 million to 462 million over the same period.
To read the full article on global obesity on press.thelancet.com