A recently published study by Newton et al report that lifestyle behaviours have the greatest impact on Disability-adjusted life-years (DALY) with high body mass index taking second place after smoking for women and dietary risks overtaking smoking as lead cause of DALY’s in men. The contribution of dietary components other than sugary drinks were not included in this analysis and so the full impact of diet on DALYs may in fact be greater than reported in this study. The report concluded that whilst the incidence of and mortality from cancer is falling mainly due to screening programmes, earlier detection and better treatments there should be more emphasis placed on disease prevention. At present 40% of the health services workload could be prevented but only about 4% of funding is directed at prevention. There is also a need for more research to assess the effectiveness of specific preventative approaches.
Newton JA, Briggs ADM, Murray CLJ et al. Changes in health in England, with analysis by English regions and areas of deprivation, 1990-2013:a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. The Lancet. Published online September 15th 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00195-6