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Why is Nutrition and Physical Activity Important?

Daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Good nutrition and physical activity significantly reduces the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, mental illness, and osteoarthritis.

The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition. Specific associated cancers related to poor nutrition and physical inactivity include breast, kidney, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, and pancreatic.

Some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk include:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life (recommended BMI of 25 or lower for most people)
  • Be physically active on a regular basis
  • Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods
  • Stop smoking if you are a smoker

Adopting a healthier lifestyle is easier for people who live, work and play in an environment that supports healthy behaviors. Working together, communities can create the type of environment where healthy choices are second nature and easy to make.

Page last updated: May 13, 2021