Massive global health study reveals “disturbing” trends, significant changes in global mortality causes and risk factors
The Global Burden of Disease study is one of the largest and widely respected summary of big-picture global health issues. This year, the summary highlights the issues that will likely exacerbate security issues regionally around the world. Far removed from the Malthusian fears of overpopulation, the world’s fertility rate continues to drop, with 90 countries having already dropped to below replacement rate. Simultaneously, extended life expectancies have carried increasing population numbers through “population momentum.” 51% of mortality is currently driven by four largely preventable risk factors made up of smoking, high blood glucose, high body mass index, and high blood pressure, factors that have increased in recent decades. High BMI in particular changed from the 16th most significant mortality risk factor to the 4th. Investments in healthcare and sanitation in least developed countries have made significant gains over the same time period. Globally, deaths from opioids increased 75% in the past decade. Deaths due to conflict and terrorism comprise the fastest-growing segment of deaths, up 118% in the past decade.
The editorial of the report states that “not only do the amalgamated global figures show a worrying slowdown in progress but the more granular data unearths exactly how patchy progress has been. GBD 2017 is a reminder that, without vigilance and constant effort, progress can easily be reversed. GBD 2017 should be an electric shock, galvanizing national governments and international agencies not only to redouble their efforts to avoid the imminent loss of hard-won gains but also to adopt a fresh approach to growing threats.”