Unhealthy habits—smoking, lack of physical activity, poor diet, and excess alcohol consumption—play a role in about half of deaths in Canada, according to a new study from researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa.
By developing a new tool to take advantage of large data sets from Statistics Canada and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, the team found that unhealthy behaviours shortened life expectancy by an average of six years for both men and women. For men, smoking had the largest impact; for women, it was a lack of physical activity.
Overall, smoking contributed to 26% of all deaths, physical inactivity to 24%, poor diet to 12% and unhealthy alcohol consumption to 0.4%. People who avoided all four unhealthy behaviours had a life expectancy almost 18 years greater than people who had the least healthy behaviours.