A life-course approach to chronic disease involves the evaluation of long-term effects of chronic disease risk during gestation, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and later adult life. This entry takes a life-span approach to chronic disease and briefly provides information on the biological, behavioral, and psychosocial pathways that operate across an individual’s life course to influence the development of chronic diseases. The main chronic diseases discussed are cardiovascular diseases, mainly heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), and diabetes. There are many other chronic conditions and diseases that contribute significantly to the burden of disease on individuals, families, societies, and countries. Examples include mental disorders, vision and hearing impairment, oral diseases, bone and joint disorders, and genetic disorders.

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