TORONTO, April 2, 2012 – Unhealthy habits are costing Ontarians 7.5 years of life. However, by reducing five unhealthy behaviours Ontarians could become the healthiest people in the entire country. New research from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Public Health Ontario (PHO), the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) shows 60 per cent of deaths in Ontario are attributed to smoking, alcohol, poor diet, lack of physical activity and stress but suggests Ontarians could make remarkable gains in life expectancy if we all collectively made changes towards healthier living.
Individually, if we all make one change like smoking less or being more physically active, then collectively we would be significantly healthier and live much longer, says Doug Manuel, lead author and Senior Scientist at ICES and Senior Scientist at OHRI.
Overall, Ontarians would gain 7.5 years of life expectancy if everyone were in the healthiest category for all five behavioural risks examined. Smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet each contribute 2 to 2.5 years of lost life expectancy. If everyone modified only their most important health risk, overall life expectancy would increase by up to 3.7 years.
The evidence shows that these five risk factors steal both years from our lives and quality from our lives,says Dr. Vivek Goel, President and CEO of PHO. "If we want sustained improvements in health, we need to focus our collective efforts on reducing these risk factors, both individually and at a population health level."
The study found:
- 60 per cent of all deaths in Ontario are attributable to five risks
- Almost all Ontarians have at least one of the five risks
- Increasing physical activity and improving diet are the most common changes that Ontarians could make to improve their health
- Improving healthy behavior will not only improve length of life, but also the amount of healthy life
The impact that modifiable behaviours have on our health is astounding. Not only will we increase our life expectancy but being healthier will mean there will be fewer demands on both formal care giving like hospitals and informal care like family, says Manuel, who is also affiliated with ICES@uOttawa and is an Associate Professor in Faculty of Medicine at uOttawa.
Author block: Manuel DG, Perez R, Bennett C, Rosella L, Taljaard M, Roberts M, Sanderson R, Tuna M, Tanuseputro P,