Study: World Health Problems Getting Worse


Good news if you’re a doctor, bad news for nearly everyone else: World health problems are getting worse. Nearly everyone in the world suffered from a health problem in 2013, according to the Global Burden of Diseases study, recently published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal.

The study found that about 96% of the world’s population experienced at least one health problem in 2013. Furthermore, about 33% had at least five health problems.

Despite medical advances and increased education about personal health, the situation is not getting any better. The study found that the number of people with more than 10 disorders increased by 52% from 1990 to 2013.

The leading world health problems, in order, were back pain, major depression, iron-deficiency anemia, neck pain, hearing loss, migraine, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, anxiety, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

World health problems with significant increases since 1990 were diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, medication-overuse headache, and osteoarthritis. However, the study noted that for many health problems societies seem to be doing better at reducing death rates than they are at lowering rates of disability. For example, while increases in rates of diabetes had around 43% since 1990, death rates from diabetes increased by only 9%.

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

“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,” said the study’s lead author, Theo Vos, professor of global health as the University of Washington.

The study, founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at medical data covering 301 types of disease and injury and more than 2,300 disease-related consequences from people in 188 countries. It is purportedly the largest analysis of trends of world health problems around the world for the years 1990 to 2013.



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