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← How do we fight chronic disease killers? | Ciarán Nicholl | TEDxVareseSalon


Showing Revision 12 created 06/30/2020 by Tanya Cushman.

  1. I’m from Ireland.
  2. I grew up in the Lake District in Ireland.
  3. And here we are in the Lake District -
  4. in Italy.
  5. I grew up with six brothers;
    we are one of seven sons.
  6. Our mother was a teacher,
    our father a musician,
  7. and we lived on a fifty-acre farm.
  8. Now, the reason I’m telling you this story
  9. is because back then
    there was a certain way of life
  10. that I would like you
    to capture in your mind
  11. and hold onto it throughout this talk.
  12. We grew our own food;
    it was natural, homegrown.
  13. Wild fish ran through the river.
  14. We were good at catching them.
  15. We still are.
  16. Every animal had a name.
  17. The cows had names.
  18. They lived in the nature.
  19. They provided us with meat and milk.
  20. Nutrition.
  21. How about lifestyle?
  22. The farmers were busy
    from early morning, in the afternoon,
  23. and they worked physically
    until after sunset.
  24. I want to leave that with you,
    and I want to talk about health.
  25. And more specifically,
    chronic disease killers.
  26. Okay, the reality is, today in Europe,
  27. over 86 percent of deaths
    are due to chronic disease.
  28. These people are living devastating lives;
  29. their loved ones, suffering.
  30. It's a terrible situation.
  31. In fact, by the time I finish this talk,
  32. 12 people in Europe will have died
    because of chronic disease.
  33. Chronic disease deaths are premature.
  34. But yet, we are living longer;
    the longevity line is going up.
  35. But how about the quality-of-life line?
  36. The quality-of-life line
    is not staying with the longevity line.
  37. What it means is that people
    spend maybe up to 20 years in poor health
  38. before they die prematurely.
  39. Oh yes, we're busy talking
    about terrorist attacks, aviation safety,
  40. the weather, the economic situation.
  41. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
  42. It’s time to talk about that.
  43. Okay, it is now time to introduce you
    to these chronic disease killers,
  44. chronic disease killers
    that lie within each and every one of us -
  45. let’s make no mistake about it.
  46. So, number one chronic disease killer -
    cardiovascular disease.
  47. Cardiovascular disease
    claims 40 percent of lives in Europe,
  48. and by the way, these numbers
    are similar - maybe even worse -
  49. throughout the rest of our planet.
  50. Let's take number two: cancer.
  51. Cancer is a disease
    involving abnormal growth
  52. which invades and takes over the body.
  53. We all know about formidable cancer.
  54. In the European Commission,
  55. we have the European
    Cancer Information System,
  56. and we can tell you
    that this year, in Europe,
  57. there will be 3.9 million
    new cases of cancer.
  58. Over 1.9 million people will die.
  59. Let’s take number three:
  60. diabetes.
  61. Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders
  62. which involve high levels of sugar
    in the bloodstream
  63. over prolonged periods of time.
  64. Ladies and gentlemen,
    they are the three big killers,
  65. contributing to 86 percent of deaths.
  66. So, what do we do?
  67. What do we do to defuse
    these chronic disease time bombs
  68. that lie within us?
  69. Oh, hang on!
  70. Maybe some of them are preventable.
  71. Would you like to find out
    how preventable these diseases are?
  72. Let’s go back then to number one:
    cardiovascular disease.
  73. Evidence tells us that - wait for it -
  74. 90 percent of cardiovascular
    disease is preventable.
  75. 90, not 9 - 90.
  76. Take cancer.
  77. Between 40 and 45 percent
    of cancers are preventable.
  78. And let’s take diabetes.
  79. 80 percent of diabetes cases
    are preventable.
  80. Well, this is just fantastic news!
  81. It’s amazing. It's fantastic!
  82. But if we look at the reality,
    what's happening today,
  83. if we look at health
    expenditure in Europe,
  84. it's about ten percent of GDP.
  85. That doesn't mean millions,
    it doesn't mean billions;
  86. it means trillions of euros.
  87. But the reality is,
  88. of all that money we spend on health,
  89. less than one percent goes to prevention.
  90. So, we are not here to name,
    to blame, or to shame.
  91. It is what it is.
  92. We as humanity
    have created that situation,
  93. but I have more good news.
  94. If we talk about prevention,
  95. there are two main ways
    to prevent disease.
  96. Number one -
  97. and now I want to bring you back
    to that image of my six brothers and I,
  98. back in Ireland.
  99. Number one - nutrition.
  100. What we eat every day.
  101. And number two is lifestyle.
  102. Let’s talk a little bit about nutrition.
  103. Do you know how much sugar, salt, and fat
    you have put through your system today?
  104. Have you eaten at least 400 grams
    of fruit and vegetables today?
  105. That’s about five portions.
  106. How about your red meat consumption?
  107. In Europe, we’re eating double
    the amount of red meat we should
  108. and half the amount of fish we should.
  109. How about your legumes? Your fiber?
  110. Then lifestyle.
  111. Lifestyle - we all know it -
  112. smoking, it's very bad.
  113. In the European Code Against Cancer,
    it’s the number one killer.
  114. And the number two
    cause of cancer in the Code
  115. is passive smoking.
  116. So, if you don't smoke,
  117. do not accept to inhale
    other people's passive smoke.
  118. Alcohol? Limit it.
  119. Limit it as much as you can.
  120. And the big one - physical activity.
  121. Remember the farmers years ago?
  122. From morning to night?
  123. What are we doing all day?
    We are doing this.
  124. And then we go home, and we do this.
  125. And then we go to bed.
  126. So basically, they’re the main things.
  127. Now, 40 years or more have passed on.
  128. Today, I’m in the Lake District in Italy,
  129. and I love it here.
  130. I’m a JRC scientist.
  131. I am a scientist working
    in public health on chronic disease
  132. for the European Commission’s
    Joint Research Centre.
  133. Now, I need to tell you
  134. that the EU and the Commission
    does not have a legal mandate
  135. to impose legislation on the member states
    to help the situation.
  136. That is up to the member states,
    the countries of the European Union.
  137. But we do, and we can do,
  138. and we do a lot of very good work
    on spearheading projects.
  139. Let me give just one or two examples,
  140. and then we will go
    on towards the end of the talk.
  141. In the Joint Research Centre,
    we have mapped school food policies.
  142. The children are the future.
  143. When children learn good habits -
  144. and the school is a controlled setting;
    it's an excellent setting -
  145. they will keep those good habits,
  146. just like if they learn bad habits,
    it would be difficult to change.
  147. With those school food policies,
  148. we then got the member states together,
    and they all exchanged practices:
  149. What do you do?
  150. How can we fix the situation?
  151. How can we improve the situation?
  152. We’ve looked to see
  153. how to improve the uptake of fruit,
    vegetables, and water in schools.
  154. We’ve even looked
    at national dietary requirements,
  155. and I can give you some
    shocking statistics now - let's do it.
  156. If you take plain rice -
    plain rice in its natural form
  157. should contain, or does contain,
    about 0.5 grams per 100 grams.
  158. That's a half a percentage.
  159. But if you look what's on the market,
    what are people buying and eating?
  160. Some of those products
    contain over 30 grams -
  161. it's added sugar -
  162. 30 grams per 100 grams.
  163. So that’s like 60, 70 times more sugar.
  164. We looked at breakfast cereals,
  165. breakfast cereals all over Europe,
    the various categories.
  166. There’s a chart from
    0 to 35 grams per 100 grams.
  167. It was red, especially for the children:
  168. the children's cereals are full of sugar.
  169. They're going to school
  170. having already exceeded,
    maybe, their daily dose.
  171. We’ve also looked
    at front-of-pack labeling.
  172. I asked you earlier:
  173. do you know how much sugar,
    salt, and fat you've eaten today?
  174. Well, to be honest you'd be a genius
    to be able to find that out
  175. because it is very difficult.
  176. Front-of-pack labeling.
  177. When you buy something
    and you want to it eat it or drink it,
  178. can you look at the back of it
    and read and understand what's there?
  179. We are looking to improve that situation.
  180. We are mapping all of
    the front-of-pack labeling techniques,
  181. and we will spearhead a project
    to hopefully change that.
  182. If we cannot communicate
    this to the people,
  183. then the people won’t make the change.
  184. Okay, there were
    some examples of what we do.
  185. We could go on,
  186. but I need to come
    towards the end of the speech.
  187. Now, this is not just -
  188. if you take a step
    on nutrition and lifestyle,
  189. it is not just about reducing
    your risk of chronic disease.
  190. There are two other fantastic advantages.
  191. Number one.
  192. Think about it:
  193. if 86 percent of us are dying
    because of chronic disease,
  194. how many of us are already toxic?
  195. How do we feel? Do we feel good?
  196. If we take a step in this direction,
    we will feel better.
  197. We will think better.
  198. We will sleep better.
  199. We will move better.
  200. We will do everything better.
  201. Before, when you thought,
    "This is a burden; this is a stress" -
  202. that will suddenly become
    "It's a challenge; I will get over this."
  203. Our wellbeing should not
    be underestimated.
  204. That is for you:
    this is really for all of us.
  205. And there's a second big advantage:
    our precious environment.
  206. Imagine if millions of people
    make this little move,
  207. towards eating and their lifestyle.
  208. Just making that change.
  209. Cycling, walking to work - leave the car.
  210. The air would become cleaner.
  211. Take the stairs, not the lift.
  212. You save energy.
  213. Energy, climate change -
    we know the story.
  214. These are a lot of factors that we can do.
  215. So there are so many advantages,
  216. and looking at these figures and numbers
    and saying, “I’m going to do something."
  217. And now, we're almost at the end.
  218. And I am looking at you
    because I have one request:
  219. to please take away
    even one thing with you.
  220. That maybe from tonight or tomorrow,
  221. you will go for a walk after dinner
    before you go to bed.
  222. Maybe look at your fruit and veg uptake.
  223. Maybe drink more water.
  224. Please take that with you.
  225. You will feel better.
  226. Your loved ones will really appreciate it.
  227. And maybe then,
  228. we can turn the tide of chronic disease.
  229. (Applause)