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Startling Facts About NCDs Every Health Educator Should Know

Noncommunicable diseases are a serious issue for world health.

Of the 56 million worldwide deaths in 2015, 40 million were due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).1 That makes NCDs more deadly than accidents, infectious diseases, and violence, including war, combined. If you want a successful career as a health educator—or want to work in any field dealing with world health and global health education programs—you need to understand the seriousness of the NCD problem. Here are a few facts to keep in mind.

The Deadliest NCDs

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the deadliest NCDs include:2

Startling Facts About NCDs Every Health Educator Should Know

Cardiovascular diseases – 17.7 million people annually
Cancers – 8.8 million deaths annually
Respiratory diseases – 3.9 million deaths annually
Diabetes – 1.6 million deaths annually

Nations With the Largest NCD Problem

In general, poorer nations suffer from higher rates of NCD deaths than do richer nations. In addition, a greater number of the NCD deaths in poorer nations are considered premature deaths (before the age of 70). In 2015, 48% of NCD deaths in low- and middle-income countries occurred before the age of 70.3 For comparison, only 22% of NCD deaths in the United Kingdom occurred prematurely.

Nations with the highest rates of NCD deaths include Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Turkmenistan, all of which suffer 900+ NCD deaths per 100,000 people each year.4 In Western European nations, the NCD death rate per 100,000 people is under 400.

NCD Risk Factors

Many NCDs are caused or worsened by lifestyle choices. Any choice that raises blood pressure, leads to obesity, raises blood glucose, and/or raises cholesterol can increase a person’s risk for a wide number of NCDs.5 Thus, health educators can help lower incidents of NCDs by teaching people about risk factors and how to live a healthier lifestyle. The top behavioral risk factors include:

  • Alcohol Abuse: According to WHO, “[t]he harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 3.3 million people annually. There are 60 different types of diseases where alcohol has a significant causal role.”6.
  • Physical Inactivity: Globally in 2010, 23% of adults age 18+ did not get enough physical activity.7 Additionally, 80% of American adults do not meet the U.S. government’s national physical activity recommendations.8 Inactivity can lead to obesity and exacerbate all NCD risk factors..
  • Tobacco Use: Over 6 million people die annually from tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.9.
  • Unhealthy Diet: Too few fruits and vegetables, too much salt, and too many saturated fats and trans-fatty acids in a person’s diet can lead to a myriad of NCDs.

How You Can Help Curb NCDs

If you want to help people gain the knowledge and awareness they need to make lifestyle choices that lower the risk of developing an NCD, you should consider earning an MS in Health Education and Promotion. What is health education and promotion? It’s a field that brings together the principles of education with the goals of public health and prevention. A career in health education and promotion can provide you with the skills to plan, implement, assess, and evaluate health education and prevention programs.

If you’re concerned you don’t have time to earn a master’s degree, online education can offer a solution. With a master’s in health education and promotion online program, you don’t have to live near a campus or even drive to an off-site location. Instead, you can earn your degree right from home. Plus, an online master’s in health education and promotion program offers you the flexibility to attend class at whatever time of day works best for you, giving you the opportunity to continue working full time while you earn your degree.

While NCDs are a significant problem all over the world, many NCD deaths are preventable. Thanks to the conveniences of online learning, you can earn the degree you need to help lower NCD deaths.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Health Education and Promotion degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,