Heart Disease, Tobacco and Poor Diet Among the Top Killers of 2016


"In Australia, we have made substantial health progress in the past 20 years", says GBD co-founder and University of Melbourne Laureate Professor Alan Lopez, an worldwide authority on the global burden of disease and using health data to develop health systems and policy. Ischemic heart disease was the leading cause of death, resulting in almost 9.5 million deaths in 2016, an increase of 19 percent since 2006.

Dr Anwar Rafay, one of the authors and consultant epidemiologist and biostatistician at the Contech School of Public Health, told Dawn that although the study had been completed, the reliability of data remained a big question in Pakistan, as compared to the United States, Scandinavian countries and India, where authentic data was available.

While significant progress has been made since 2006, 1.03 million people died from HIV/AIDS (45.8% decrease since 2006), 719500 died from malaria (25.9% decrease), and 1.21 million died from tuberculosis (20.9% decrease) in 2016.

Tobacco is linked to 7.1 million deaths in more than a hundred countries, and smoking was among the leading risk factors for the loss of healthy life.

Life expectancy in Australia is increasing, but ailments such as depression, diabetes, back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders are taking their toll, the new Global Burden of Disease (GBD) papers have found.

Diets that are low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish oils and high in salt were the most common dietary risk factors.

"These need to be identified early and programme and policy level interventions need to be put in place immediately in order to reduce the burden of NCDs in future". Diabetes cause 1.43 million deaths, an increase of 31.1% in the last 10 years. A woman has a life expectancy of 84.6 years, up 1 year from 2006.

The report found that today, the average global life expectancy is 72.5 years (75.3 years for women and 69.8 years for men.) That's up from an average life expectancy of 65.1 years in 1990 and 58.4 years in 1970, the report said.

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India's under-5 mortality rate- deaths per 1000 live births, remains 39.

Four other food-related risk factors - high blood glucose, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI), and high total cholesterol - were all in the top ten risk factors for death for men and women globally.

"Death is a powerful motivator, both for individuals and for countries, to address diseases that have been killing us at high rates".

Sugary drinks are risky for health and we need to know about healthy compounds in diets that will provide protection, he said. More than a billion people are suffering from mental health and substance misuse disorders.

Furthermore, major depressive disorders rank in the top 10 causes of ill health in nearly every country in the world.

Those four nations are American Samoa, Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Overall, the National Institutes of Health-funded study reveals a portrait of a globe precariously balanced between health successes and health failures - with some of the latter being intractable yet avoidable.

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