BEIJING-A group of top Chinese medical and health experts recently identified the 20 most important and most preventable health problems for the next 20 years in China. The 20 health problems are comprised of diseases, unhealthy behaviors, environmental pollution, food contamination and road injuries.

Diabetes and hypertension are ranked as the top two, along with seven major chronic diseases including coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as lung, liver and breast cancers. Risk factors for chronic diseases, such as air and water pollution, smoking, an unhealthy diet, as well as contamination with pesticides, antibiotics and hormone residues are all among the 20 health problems.

AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, depression and obesity are also on the list. The results were recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Wu Yangfeng, the lead author of the study and researcher with the Peking University Clinical Research

Institute, said the results were a consensus from a panel of 70 top Chinese experts working mainly in the field of public health, clinical medicine and medical research, with an average age of 64. With each contributor having been engaged in their profession for more than 15 years.

Panelists could choose from a list provided of 106 diseases and could also add new items. Then, they Were asked to rate two aspects for each health problem: the degree of importance and the degree of

Prevent ability.

They also considered other characteristics of health problems, such as the number of people affected, its importance in the future and their personal beliefs regarding its consequences. "The ranking of the top 20 health problems indicates that thepanelists prioritized health problems where intervention could prevent disease worsening or the development of other serious conditions and focused more on chronic than on infectious diseases," Wu said.

China faces shifting health challenges, with chronic diseases now accounting for the vast majority

of all deaths. Wu believes the study could help set up national priorities to improve health and prevent Disease.

Researchers also found that the diseases identified on the list accounted for 61 percent of total deaths

in China, showing that the experts' choices are in line with national statistics.

Jonathan Fielding, professor at the University of California in the Fielding School of Public Health, said the study highlighted the role of expert opinions in health policy making, instead of relying on statistics alone.

"The results could help establish research priorities, and invite collaboration among nations faced with similar challenges," he said.