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Europeans Are Living Longer But Certain Health Issues Can Reverse The Trend, Says WHO

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Europeans now have longer average life spans, according to a new study. However, bad habits such as smoking and obesity are hindering the progress.

The World Health Organization found that on average, people in Europe live a year longer compared to five years ago. Premature deaths that are caused by cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and chronic respiratory diseases have continued to decrease. However, all these are being offset by an unhealthy lifestyle.

Going Forward And Backward

The study conducted by WHO claims that the average lifespan for Europeans in 2015 reached 77.8 years. That is more than a year added to the estimated average lifespan in 2010.

"People live longer, life expectancies are increasing, and premature mortality is falling — and that, of course, is a great health message," explained Claudia Stein, director of the Division of Information, Evidence, and Innovation at WHO. "We're seeing it in practically all countries... we're not seeing it equally in all countries."

The life expectancy across every country in Europe is varied. Most have taken significant steps toward becoming healthier but results are affected by lifestyle-related factors such as smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption.

Drinking and smoking have remained to be major health problems anywhere, but tobacco and alcohol consumption of Europeans are still the highest in the world.

In the recent years, member countries also saw a rise in the number of people who are overweight or obese. More than half of Europeans are reportedly overweight.

Non-vaccination is also becoming increasingly a problem as European countries see endemic transmission and sometimes, nationwide outbreaks of measles that can be fatal in children.

Luxembourg currently has the highest life expectancy where the average citizen lives up to 83 years old in 2015. Meanwhile, Moldova has the lowest average at 72 years old. Women in the region also live 6.6 years longer than men.

Health 2020

WHO publishes the European Health Report every three years to monitor the progress of each member state under the Health 2020 initiative that was launched in 2012. The health policy framework hopes to "significantly improve the health and well-being of populations, reduce health inequalities, strengthen public health and ensure people-centered health systems that are universal, equitable, sustainable and of high quality."

Most member states have already exceeded their Health 2020 targets by reducing premature deaths across all member states. Premature deaths have also fallen steeply since the beginning of the millennium.

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