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WHO Blames Alcohol, Tobacco, Ultra-Processed Foods, and Fossil Fuels for 2.7 Million Deaths Annually in Europe

Geneva, June 12, 2024, The Europe Today: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday attributed 2.7 million annual deaths in Europe to alcohol, tobacco, ultra-processed foods (UPFs), and fossil fuels. In its report titled “Commercial Determinants of Noncommunicable Diseases in the WHO European Region,” the global health body urged for stringent regulations to curb industry influence and enhance public health.

“These four industries kill at least 7,000 people in our region every day,” Hans Kluge, Director of the WHO Europe region, stated. The WHO’s findings reveal that 1.15 million deaths per year in Europe are caused by smoking, 426,857 by alcohol, 117,290 by diets high in processed meats, and 252,187 by diets high in salt.

The report highlights that these figures do not account for deaths related to obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol levels, all of which are linked to unhealthy diets. The UN agency criticized these industries for obstructing public health policies that might impact their profits, employing tactics such as targeted marketing, disinformation, social media promotions, and funding biased research.

“These tactics threaten public health gains of the past century and prevent countries from reaching their health targets,” the WHO asserted. The report emphasizes that industry lobbying hampers efforts to combat non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The WHO’s call for strict regulation aims to mitigate the power of these industries and promote healthier lifestyles. The report underscores the need for comprehensive public health policies to address the commercial determinants of non-communicable diseases, ensuring the health and well-being of populations across Europe.