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An Emerging Epidemic of Noncommunicable Diseases in Developing Populations Due to a Triple Evolutionary Mismatch

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  • Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands; Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, Leiden, The Netherlands; Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana; Department of Public Health and Center of Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

With their transition from adverse to affluent environments, developing populations experience a rapid increase in the number of individuals with noncommunicable diseases. Here, we emphasize that developing populations are more susceptible than western populations to acquire these chronic diseases, because their genetic, cultural, and epigenetic characteristics do not match with the eagerly awaited affluent environments. In regard to this, there is an urgent need for public health organizations to reorganize current environments in developing populations so as to fit their inherited characteristics. Unfortunately, this need is neglected as an essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals that form the core of the United Nations' Post-2015 Development Agenda. Only through global collaborative efforts can the environments in developing populations be reorganized and, thereby, the emerging epidemic of noncommunicable diseases be stalled.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Jacob J. E. Koopman, Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Postal zone C7-Q, Leiden University Medical Center, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC, Leiden, The Netherlands. E-mail: j.j.e.koopman@lumc.nl

Authors' addresses: Jacob J. E. Koopman, Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, E-mail: j.j.e.koopman@lumc.nl. David van Bodegom, Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, Leiden, The Netherlands, and Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, E-mail: bodegom@leydenacademy.nl. Juventus B. Ziem, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana, E-mail: jbziem@yahoo.com. Rudi G. J. Westendorp, Department of Public Health and Center of Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, E-mail: westendorp@sund.ku.dk.

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