25% of Europeans still smoke

A recent survey shows no decrease in the overall smoking rate in the EU since 2014, with more than one in four Europeans still smoking. Amongst people aged 15 to 24 the rate has increased from 25% in 2014 to 29% in 2017.

Significant differences exist between EU countries, with the highest smoking rates in Greece (37%), Bulgaria, France (both 36%) and Croatia (35%). At 7%, Sweden has the lowest smoking rate in the EU. Regular e-cigarette use remains stable at 2%, with 15% having tried such products at some point. With regard to attitudes to tobacco and e-cigarette control measures, the majority of those surveyed (63%) think e-cigarette use should be banned in places where there are smoking bans; and 46% are in favour of plain packaging for cigarettes.

To read the full Eurobarometer on attitudes of Europeans to smoking and e-cigarettes on the ec.europa.eu website

Controlling speeding drivers

Around 1.25 million people die every year on the world’s roads. Studies indicate that:

  • almost half of all drivers exceed the speed limit
  • drivers who are male, young and under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in speed-related crashes
  • road traffic accidents (RTAs) are the number one cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years
  • RTAs are estimated to cost countries from 3–5% of GDP and push many families into poverty.

‘Managing speed’, a new report from WHO, suggests that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to 1 in 3 road traffic fatalities worldwide. Measures to address speed prevent road traffic deaths and injuries, make populations healthier, and cities more sustainable.

To read more about speed management to save lives from the who.int website

The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, according to the WHO.

The top 5 causes of death in children under 5 are:

  • respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke (570,000 children a year)
  • diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (361,000 children a year)
  • conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution (270,000 children a year in their first month of life)
  • malaria that could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage (200,000 children a year)
  • unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning (200,000 children a year)

For more information on the causes of death for children under 5 from the who.int website

Good practices in mental health and wellbeing

Mental disorders place a tremendous burden on the well-being and health of European citizens. They are a leading contributor to the burden of disease in the European Union, and approximately 38.2% of EU citizens across all age groups are affected by a mental disorder each year.
Sharing information on good practices implemented in various settings can help stimulate investment in mental health, and collaborating efforts across EU in designing and implementing such activities in a more effective and
efficient manner.
To download this report on Good practices in mental health and wellbeing from the ec.europa.eu website

 

Depression

The WHO have updated their factsheet on depression which includes the following facts:

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with more than 300 million sufferers of all ages, and it is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • At its worst depression can lead to suicide, and nearly 800,000 people commit suicide every year. It is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
  • There are effective treatments for depression although fewer than half of sufferers receive any treatment at all.

For more information and to download the factsheet on depression on the who.int website

Deafness and hearing loss

The WHO have updated their factsheet about deafness and hearing loss and key facts in it include:

  • 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and 32 million of these are children
  • Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing
  • 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes
  • 1billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings
  • Approximately one third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss

For more information and to download the factsheet on deafness and hearing loss from the who.int website

New school food guidelines aim for pleasant, sustainable dining

Health and education authorities in Finland have issued new guidelines for school food for the first time in a decade. They’re aimed at making lunches more nutritious – and more appealing to youngsters.

The new recommendations call for more emphasis on dining as a calm, pleasant communal experience and on the sustainability of food. This means more serious vegetarian alternatives, as well as more fish and “less red meat, more vegetables, fruit and berries”.

According to the new guidelines, pupils should be allowed at least half an hour to eat, and lunch should be served between around 11 am and noon. Since many schools’ cafeterias may be too cramped for comfortable eating, it is also suggested that schools could experiment with having pupils eat together in their own classrooms, for instance.

For more information about Finland’s new school food guidelines on the yle.fi website

10 facts on physical activity

A lack of physical activity is a significant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Less and less physical activity is occurring in many countries – globally, 23% of adults and 81% school-going adolescents are not active enough.

WHO have identified 10 facts about physical activity, including:

  • it reduces the risk of disease
  • it helps maintain a healthy body
  • it’s not the same as sport
  • 60 minutes a day for 5-17 year olds
  • 150 minutes a week for 18-64 year olds
  • Some physical activity is better than none

To see the full list and associated images on physical activity on the who.int website

Depression – Let’s talk

World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization and it provides a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

The theme of the 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression, which can affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. At worst, it can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. The campaign is paying particular attention to three groups that are disproportionately affected:

  • adolescents and young adults
  • women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth)
  • adults over 60

Materials targeting these audiences are available in the campaign materials.

For more information about the campaign – Depression, let’s talk – on the who.int website

Tobacco Control Playbook counters aggressive tobacco industry tactics

The tobacco industry has become more focused, aggressive and sophisticated in its efforts to block tobacco control measures. However, no single source has yet provided the resources to understand how governments and the public health community can respond to the arguments of tobacco industry players. In light of this, WHO/Europe has developed the Tobacco Control Playbook, an online tool that counters common tobacco myths.

The Playbook is intended to be a living resource, regularly updated and extended with further arguments and on the basis of feedback. It will also be adjusted and expanded to take into account any new developments in tobacco industry approaches. Everyone concerned with tobacco control is invited to contribute to the Playbook’s success by continuing to offer arguments and responses, and by sharing their experiences of using the Playbook. Please send input to eurotobaccofree@who.int.

Download the Tobacco Control Playbook from the euro.who.int website