Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. The 4 main types of noncommunicable diseases are:-

  • img Cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke)
  • img Cancers
  • img Chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma)
  • img Diabetes

Video Source: World Health Organization

NCDs already disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries where nearly three quarters of NCD deaths – 28 million – occur.

Who is at risk of such diseases?

All age groups and all regions are affected by NCDs. NCDs are often associated with older age groups, but evidence shows that globally, 16 million of all deaths attributed to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) occur before the age of 70. Of these "premature" deaths, 82% occurred in low- and middle-income countries. Children, adults and the elderly are all vulnerable to the risk factors that contribute to noncommunicable diseases, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or the effects of the harmful use of alcohol.

Sheryl Salis talking about Healthy Lifestyle

These diseases are driven by forces that include ageing, rapid unplanned urbanization, and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles. For example, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles like unhealthy diets may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, elevated blood lipids, and obesity. These are called 'intermediate risk factors' which can lead to cardiovascular disease, a NCD.

NCDs risk factors

  • imgHigh blood pressure
  • imgPhysical Inactivity
  • imgObesity
  • imgTobacco
  • imgRelated Cholesterol
  • imgDecrease Vegetable and Fruit Intake
  • imgAlcohol
  • imgRaised Blood Glucose

Modifiable behavioural risk factors

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol increase the risk of NCDs.

  • Tobacco accounts for around 6 million deaths1 every year (including from the effects of exposure to second-hand smoke), and is projected to increase to 8 million by 2030.
  • About 3.2 million deaths1 annually can be attributed to insufficient physical activity.
  • More than half of the 3.3 million annual deaths1 from harmful drinking are from NCDs
  • In 2010, 1.7 million annual deaths1 from cardiovascular causes have been attributed to excess salt/sodium intake.

Metabolic/physiological risk factors

These behaviours lead to four key metabolic/physiological changes that increase the risk of NCDs: raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) and hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).

In terms of attributable deaths, the leading metabolic risk factor globally is elevated blood pressure (to which 18% of global deaths are attributed) followed by overweight and obesity and raised blood glucose. Low- and middle-income countries are witnessing the fastest rise in overweight young children.


Information sourced from WHO-

*Video Source: World Health Organization

**Video Source: Sheryl Salis

1 - Global figures