The past few decades have produced significant improvement and advances in health, economic development and growth, and standards of living on a global scale. Major achievements in global health have produced greater life expectancy, enhanced maternal and child health, and reduced the spread and impact of infectious diseases. Yet major barriers to human health and development persist, with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) now the major cause of death and disability (World Health Organization, The global burden of disease: 2004 update. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2008a). Noncommunicable diseases, including cancer, now account for more than half of all global mortality (Beaglehole et al., Lancet 377:1438–1447, 2011a) and are an increasing burden on the health and wealth of countries regardless of income or level of development. Some of the same social and economic changes that have heralded improvement and advances have also resulted in the risk factors for NCDs becoming widespread.
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