JUST ONE IN 20 people worldwide had no health problems in 2013, with a third of the world’s population experiencing more than five ailments.
That’s according to a major new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2013, published in The Lancet.
It found that in the past 23 years, the leading causes of health loss have hardly changed.
Lower back pain, depression, iron-deficiency anaemia, neck pain, and age-related hearing loss were the main causes of overall health loss worldwide in both 1990 and 2013.
In 2013, musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back pain, neck pain, and arthritis and mental and substance abuse disorders accounted for almost half of all health loss worldwide.
The study also found that rates of disability are declining much more slowly than death rates. Increases in rates of diabetes have risen by around 43% over the past 23 years while death rates from diabetes increased by only 9%.
The authors are warning that as the world’s population grows, and the proportion of elderly people increases, the number of people living in suboptimum health is set to rise rapidly over coming decades
Lead author and Professor of Global Health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Theo Vos said:
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.
“Large, preventable causes of health loss, particularly serious musculoskeletal disorders and mental and behavioural disorders, have not received the attention that they deserve. 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.”