The health situation around the globe is beginning to look much like the one we are facing here in the United States. Incidents of premature death are low, incidents of disability are high and an abundance of food is causing more of a problem than lack of food.
A new Global Burden of Disease Study published on Thursday found that high blood pressure is the most common risk factor for disease around the globe, with alcohol coming in third and that lower back pain is a greater cause of disability than childbirth.
“We are in transition to a world where disability is the dominant concern as opposed to premature death. The pace of change is such that we are ill prepared to deal with what the burden of disease is now in most places,” said Christopher J. L. Murray, who headed the recent study.
The study is one of the most ambitious of its kind, comprised of nearly 500 researchers spread across 302 institutions and 50 countries. Researchers looked at over 200 different causes of death such as cancer, alcoholism, AIDS even animal bites as well as almost 70 risk factors such as diet and history of abuse that could contribute to illness. THey compared their findings from data gathered in 1990 to the latest data from 2010 to track trends in health over the last two decades.
The top two global killers remained the same over the last twenty years; heart attack and stroke, but there have been a lot of changes as well. Malnutrition dropped from the 11th leading cause of death to the 21st and researchers tracked an increase in deaths caused by lung cancer, diabetes and car accidents.
The study also found that Africa was the only place of the planet where poverty is a major factor in premature death. It is only there where AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and childhood illness remain responsible for 75% of premature deaths.