World's Population Is Getting Sicker
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 25, 2015 11:05 AM

Quick Brief: In 2013 only about 4% of the Earths population had no health problems.  33% had more than 5 health problems, the most common being:  Low back pain, depression, iron-deficiency anemia, neck pain and age-related hearing loss.

Two conditions -- musculoskeletal problems (mainly conditions such as low back pain, neck pain and arthritis) and mental health/substance abuse disorders (mainly depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse) -- accounted for nearly half of all loss of healthy years of life.

"Large, preventable causes of health loss, particularly serious musculoskeletal disorders and mental and behavioral disorders, have not received the attention that they deserve." study author said.

 

People lose more 'years of healthy life' to illness now than they did in the 1990s, global survey reports.  A new global tally of health finds that only about 4 percent of people worldwide had no health problems in 2013, while a third -- about 2.3 billion people -- had more than five health problems.

And the situation is getting worse, not better: Worldwide, the proportion of years of healthy life people lost because of illness (rather than simply dying earlier) rose from 21 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2013, according to the Global Burden of Disease study.

The growing number of elderly people also means that the number of people who will be living with health problems will rise rapidly over coming decades, the researchers warned.

The study involves data from 188 countries and looks at more than 300 illnesses and injuries.  The study is the largest analysis of trends in health around the world for the years 1990 to 2013.

In both 1990 and 2013, the leading causes of ill health worldwide were: Low back pain, depression, iron-deficiency anemia, neck pain and age-related hearing loss. In 2013, two conditions -- musculoskeletal problems (mainly conditions such as low back pain, neck pain and arthritis) and mental health/substance abuse disorders (mainly depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse) -- accounted for nearly half of all loss of healthy years of life, the report's authors said.

The study also found a "startling" rise in ill health between 1990 and 2013 due to diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and arthritis.  They noted that societies seem to be doing better at tackling death rates than they are at lowering rates of disability. For example, global diabetes cases actually rose by 43 percent over the past 23 years, while deaths from diabetes only rose by 9 percent, the study found.

"Large, preventable causes of health loss, particularly serious musculoskeletal disorders and mental and behavioral disorders, have not received the attention that they deserve." study author said. He is professor of global health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.  "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," he said.