With a growing world population and a growing proportion of elderly, more people are living in suboptimal health around the world. A third of the world's population experienced more than 5 ailments in 2013, according to a study published in The Lancet.
With a growing world population and a growing proportion of elderly, more people are living in suboptimal health around the world. A third of the world's population experienced more than 5 ailments in 2013, according to a study published in The Lancet. In comparison, only 4.3% of the world's population had no health problems.
In addition, the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 collaborators found that from 1990 to 2013 the proportion of years of healthy life lost due to illness rose from 21% to 31%. Rates of disability are declining slower than death rates.
"The fact that mortality is declining faster than non-fatal disease and injury prevalence is further evidence of the importance of paying attention to the rising health loss from these leading causes of disability, and not simply focusing on reducing mortality," Theo Vos, lead author and professor of global health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, said in a statement.
The researchers used 35,620 sources of data from 188 countries between 1990 and 2013 to estimate the overall burden on healths systems from 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries and 2337 health consequences from these diseases.
During the 23-year period studied, the leading causes of health loss did not change. Low back pain, depression, iron-deficiency anaemia, neck pain, and age-related hearing loss accounted for the largest overall health loss in terms of years lived with disability. Low back pain and depression were among the top 10 greatest contributors to disability in every country studied. These 2 diseases caused more health loss than diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma combined.
However, over the time studied there had been a sharp increase in the health loss associated with diabetes (increase of 136%). Other diseases with startling increases were medication overuse headache (120%), Alzheimer's disease (92%), and osteoarthritis (75%).
"Large, preventable causes of health loss, particularly serious musculoskeletal disorders and mental and behavioural disorders, have not received the attention that they deserve," Dr Vos said. "Addressing these issues will require a shift in health priorities around the world, not just to keep people alive into old age, but also to keep them healthy."