Andrea Rhein

Photo: Andrea Rhein

As the four major noncommunicable diseases affecting the European Region (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic respiratory disease) share common modifiable risk factors, prevention of any one of these diseases must be integrated into population approaches to prevent NCDs as a group.

Guidelines and international commitments to reverse the current trends toward overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets have been established in various policy documents, including the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity (2006), the European Framework on Physical Activity (2007) and the European Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Policy 2007-2012.

A European Action Plan 2012 – 2015 for implementation of the European Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs (launched in 2006) was endorsed at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe at its sixty-first session in Baku in September 2011. The Action Plan lays out an integrated approach to the prevention and control of NCDs, specific actions to address the priority diseases, and strategies to empower people living with these conditions to manage their own health.

To identify the underlying causes of the current increase in overweight and other risk factors, WHO/Europe commissioned a review of the social determinants of health throughout all 53 Member States, which took place from 2010 to 2012. This review provides scientific evidence and a framework for future action to help in developing a comprehensive new health policy for the Region entitled ‘Health2020’, which focuses in part on the alarming rise in noncommunicable diseases in the Region.