Four “fatal behaviours” that combine to increase the chances of dying, including a lack of exercise and poor diet, have been identified by scientists.
Researchers in Norway collected lifestyle data on almost 5,000 adults aged 18 and over in 1984 and 1985.
Over the next 20 years a total of 1,080 participants died, 431 from heart and artery disease, 318 from cancer, and 331 from other causes.
Individuals with all four poor health behaviours were three times more likely to die of heart disease or cancer than those with none.
They also had four times the risk of dying from other causes. Their overall death risk was equivalent to being 12 years older than they were.
The findings were published yesterday in the journal Archives Of Internal Medicine.
The authors, led by Dr Elisabeth Kvaavik from the University of Oslo, concluded: “Modest but achievable adjustments to lifestyle behaviours are likely to have a considerable impact at both the individual and population level.
“Developing more efficacious methods by which to promote healthy diets and lifestyles across the population should be an important priority of public health policy.”