Men­tal dis­or­ders, to­bacco, di­ets big­gest killers

Business Standard - - ECONOMY - KATE KELLAND REUTERS

Heart disease and to­bacco ranked with con­flict and vi­o­lence among the world’s big­gest killers in 2016, while poor di­ets and men­tal dis­or­ders caused people the great­est ill health, a large in­ter­na­tional study has found.

The Global Bur­den of Disease (GBD) study, pub­lished on Fri­day in The Lancet med­i­cal jour­nal, found that while life ex­pectancy is in­creas­ing, so too are the years people live in poor health. The pro­por­tion of life spent be­ing ill is higher in poor coun­tries than in wealthy ones.

“Death is a pow­er­ful mo­ti­va­tor, both for in­di­vid­u­als and for coun­tries, to ad­dress dis­eases that have been killing us at high rates. But we’ve been much less mo­ti­vated to ad­dress is­sues lead­ing to ill­nesses,” said Christo­pher Mur­ray, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion (IHME) at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, which led the study.

He said a “triad of trou­bles” — obe­sity, con­flict, and men­tal ill­ness — is emerg­ing as a “stub­born and per­sis­tent bar­rier to ac­tive and vig­or­ous life­styles”.

The IHME-led study, in­volv­ing more than 2,500 re­searchers in around 130 coun­tries, found that in 2016, poor diet was as­so­ci­ated with nearly one in five deaths world­wide. To­bacco smok­ing killed 7.1 mil­lion people.

Di­ets low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish oils and high in salt were the most com­mon risk fac­tors, con­tribut­ing to cases of obe­sity, high blood pres­sure, high blood su­gar and high choles­terol. The study found that deaths from firearms, con­flict and ter­ror­ism have in­creased glob­ally, and that non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble, or chronic, dis­eases such as car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease and di­a­betes caused 72 per cent of all deaths world­wide. Heart disease was the lead­ing cause of pre­ma­ture death in most re­gions and killed 9.48 mil­lion people glob­ally in 2016. Men­tal ill­ness was found to have a heavy toll on in­di­vid­u­als and so­ci­eties, with 1.1 bil­lion people liv­ing with psy­cho­log­i­cal or psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders and sub­stance abuse prob­lems in 2016. Ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­ders ranked in the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four coun­tries world­wide.

The GBD is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion global health char­ity and gives data es­ti­mates on some 330 dis­eases, causes of death and in­juries in 195 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries.

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