Making the Case for The Wellness Moonshot

The first global commitment to achieve a world free of preventable disease

Statistics show the human and economic costs of not focusing on preventable, chronic diseases are staggering.  Discover why achieving The Wellness Moonshot is humankind’s most pressing need.


The Global Cost of NOT Focusing on Prevention


69% of all deaths globally each year are a result of preventable diseases
Centers for Disease Control, 2017

Largely preventable non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and mental health disorders – are responsible for 36 million deaths each year. This is the biggest cause of death worldwide, at 63% of deaths.
WHO, 2017

In 1990, about 40% of deaths from non-communicable diseases were in low- and middle-income countries, compared with about 75% today. This surge can be traced to four areas: tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, insufficient physical activity, and unhealthy diet/obesity.
WHO, 2017

More than 1.2 million adolescents die worldwide every year – and nearly all those deaths are preventable.
WHO, 2017

Over 40% of largely preventable NCD deaths occur during the most productive life period, before age 70.
WHO, 2017


Cardiovascular diseases take the lives of more than 17 million people worldwide each year – the world’s biggest killer – projected to cause 22 million deaths each year by 2030.
Centers for Disease Control, 2017

1.13 billion people worldwide now suffer from high blood pressure — the majority in low- and middle-income countries. This number has almost doubled in the last 40 years.
NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016

The number of people worldwide with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980: from 108 million to 422 million adults in 2016 (8.5% of global population). Factors driving this dramatic rise include obesity.
WHO, 2016

The number of new cancer cases is expected to rise 70% over the next 2 decades.
WHO, 2016

Intrinsic genetic risk factors (“bad luck”) represent only 10-30% of the lifetime risk of getting many common cancers. The rest are things one can prevent.
Stony Brook University, 2016

More than 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years is now overweight.
WHO, 2014

More than 10% of the world’s population is now obese. Obesity levels have risen in all nations from 1980-2015 and at least doubled in 73 countries.
Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, 2017

One fifth of adults worldwide will be obese by 2025.
NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016

When it comes to obesity, the “Anglo-Saxon” world is hit hardest: More than a quarter (50 million) of the world’s severely obese, and one-fifth (118 million) of the world’s obese adults, live in high-income, English-speaking countries: the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.
NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016

Chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cancer could be cut by at least in half if people adopted healthy lifestyles such as regular exercise, diets low in sodium and added sugars, and abstained from using tobacco.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015


The global cost of largely preventable chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health) could reach $47 trillion by 2030.
World Economic Forum, 2017

In a very conservative estimate, physical inactivity now costs the world $67.5 billion a year– and this is only measuring 5 of 22 diseases directly linked to physical inactivity. The real costs are likely to be two to three times higher.
Univ. of Sydney, 2016

The total economic cost of smoking (health expenditures and productivity) totaled $1.44 trillion in 2012, or nearly 2% of the world’s annual GDP.
WHO & American Cancer Society, 2017

“By investing just $1-3 dollars per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from largely preventable NCDs.”
WHO Director-General, 2016

Yet, less than 2% of international development assistance for health goes to fight NCDs.
WHO, 2017


The Causes of Preventable Disease


Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not physically active enough. In high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women are insufficiently physically active, as compared to 12% of men and 24% of women in low-income countries.
WHO, 2017

More than 80% of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active.
WHO, 2017


Poor diet (low in whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and fish oils and high in salt and sugar) is a factor in 1 in 5 deaths around the world.
Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, 2017

Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death, after smoking.
Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, 2017)

11% of the world’s population was undernourished in 2016.
Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, 2017


More than a billion people worldwide live with mental health and substance misuse disorders. Depression is one of the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four countries.
Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, 2017

Depressive disorders ranked as the third leading cause of the global burden of disease in 2004, but will move into first place by 2030.
WHO, 2012 

When it comes to happiness, humanity is only about halfway up the ladder, with an average global happiness score
of 5.3 out of 10.
UN’s World Happiness Report, 2017


Environmental pollution is now responsible for 16% of all world deaths: killing 3X more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined and 15X more than wars and all other forms of violence.
Simon Fraser University, 2017

Twelve million people die annually as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment (from exposure to air and water pollution, climate change and chemicals). That’s almost one in four of global deaths.
WHO, 2017

Every year, environmental pollutants kill an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of five. That means one in four deaths for children aged one month to five-years-old.
WHO, 2017


Worldwide, the cost of unwell workers represents 10-15% of global economic output. In the U.S. alone, an unhealthy workforce costs $2.2 trillion annually – a staggering 12 percent of GDP.
Global Wellness Institute, 2016