Published: Sat, September 16, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Latest estimates for global causes of death and disease

Latest estimates for global causes of death and disease

The findings also showed that less than 5 million children under the age 5 died in 2016, compared with more than 16 million in 1970.

Findings of the Global Burden of Disease study have shown that smoking continues to be a leading killer despite efforts to spread awareness about its health risks. Diabetes caused 1.43 million deaths, a jump of 31% since 2006. Overall, mortality rates declined across age groups, resulting in an increased life expectancy, the study said.

An Australian man born in 2016 can expect to live 80.5 years, an increase in life expectancy of 1.6 years over the past decade.

The Japanese averaged 83.9 years, while citizens of the Central African Republic beat the odds if they make it past 50, a discrepancy of more than three decades between highest and lowest lifespans.

However, the researchers lauded "exemplar nations", such as Ethiopia, the Maldives, Nepal, Niger, Peru, and Portugal, for surpassing the expected life expectancy based on their socio-demographic index. Absolute differences in death rates between countries have converged, meeting one of the aims of The Lancet's Commission on Investing in Health.

Meanwhile, the study found that tobacco use caused 7.1 million deaths a year ago, while poor diet was linked with nearly one in five deaths. Ischaemic heart disease - decreased blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle - was the leading cause of premature mortality in all regions, apart from in low-income countries, where the leading cause was lower respiratory infections.

Heart disease was the leading cause of premature death in most regions and killed 9.48 million people globally past year. Depression ranked among the top 10 causes of ill health in 191 of the 195 countries and territories included in the study.

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Overall, deaths from infectious diseases have decreased.

ONE IN FIVE deaths worldwide is linked to poor diet - while seven million people died of tobacco-related illnesses in 2016.

Tobacco is linked to 7.1 million deaths and in more than 100 countries smoking was among the leading risk factors for loss of healthy life.

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. However, the report also found an increase in deaths due to drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).

"In particular, diets low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish oil and high in salt were the most common dietary risk factors", the research team wrote in its report, published in The Lancet medical journal. Because of the strong interrelationship between these risks, the authors note that the true driver is likely to be diet and BMI, exacerbated by blood glucose levels and high blood pressure.

The study involved more than 2,500 researchers in around 130 countries.

Where stroke (known by its medical name as cerebrovascular disease) and cardiovascular diseases combined accounted for almost 10 percent of all deaths in Australia, Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) was found to have single-handedly caused more than 17 percent of deaths, despite the national rate for that condition decreasing over the a year ago.

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