More than 3 million people are dying prematurely each year of chronic non-communicable diseases in China, according to the World Health Organisation, calling on the country to step up efforts "to stop the tsunami of chronic disease".
A dramatic wake-up call
Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – such as lung cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes – accounted for 8.6 million deaths in China in 2012, the WHO said in a statement.
The organisation said prevalence of many key risk factors in China is "worryingly high". It said that over half of all men in the country are smokers, more than four in five adolescents do not engage in sufficient physical activity and around one in five adults has raised blood pressure.
"This new report is a dramatic wake-up call," Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO's representative in China, said in the statement.
"There is an urgent need for strong action now – to stop millions of Chinese men and women dying in their most productive years from diseases that can be prevented simply by changing common unhealthy lifestyle habits: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, and not enough physical activity."
The World Bank said in 2011 that the economic benefit of reducing cardiovascular diseases by one percent per year from 2010-2040 in China could generate more than $10.7 trillion, equivalent to 68 percent of China's real GDP in 2010.
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Image: Chinese father and son smoking from Shutterstock