Europe has the world's highest rates of smoking and drinking and more than half its population are overweight or obese, putting them at increased risk of heart disease, cancer and other illnesses, said health officials.
In a report on health in its European Region, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that many countries had reduced risk factors for premature death, rates of obesity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption "remain alarmingly high".
Advertisement"Europeans drink and smoke more than anyone else. We are world champions - and it's not a good record. This could have the most serious impact on young people since their lives may be shortened unless something is done to reduce consumption of tobacco, alcohol and calories," said Claudia Stein, WHO Europe's head of information, evidence, research and innovation.
On an average, a person drinks 11 liters of alcohol a year. Nearly 60% of people in the WHO's European region are either overweight or obese and 30% use tobacco.
Life expectancy is increasing across Europe and the region is on track for reducing premature mortality by 1% a year until 2020, said a report.
According to the report, the number of people whose lives are cut short by cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases is declining. The report also found that since the last European health report in 2012, there have been improvements in the rates of deaths from external causes, such as road accidents and suicides.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO's European regional director, applauded the improvements in health and the steady gains in life expectancy but added a warning.
"There is a very real risk that these gains will be lost if smoking and alcohol consumption continue at the current rate. This is especially relevant to young people, who may not live as long as their grandparents," said Jakab.
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