A fifth of global deaths linked to diet: study
Fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday and although humans are living longer than ever before, one in five deaths last year were linked to poor diet, researchers said Friday.
More than 1.6 million people in poor countries died in 2016 from diarrhoea caused by contaminated water and food, while another 2.4 million succumbed to lung infections that mostly could have been prevented or treated.
Another two million mothers and newborns perished due to complications at birth that rudimentary health care could have largely avoided.
AIDS and tuberculosis each claimed more than a million lives, while malaria killed over 700,000 people, according to half-a-dozen studies published jointly in The
But trend lines have declined over the last decade for these communicable diseases.
The same cannot be said for viral hepatitis, which killed 1.34 million people in 2016 — 22 percent more than in 2000, according to the
"Hepatitis deaths can be avoided," said
"Globally, only five percent of people living with viral hepatitis are aware of their condition."
Nearly 55 million people died in 2016, while 129 million were born, leaving a net gain of 74 humans on the planet.
GLOBAL LIFE EXPECTANCY
Global life expectancy last year was 75.3 years for women, and nearly 70 for men.
The Japanese averaged 83.9 years, while citizens of the
Nearly three quarters of all deaths in 2016 were caused by non-communicable diseases, with heart disease related to restricted blood flow — 9.5 million deaths — the single biggest killer of all.
That's an increase of nearly 20 percent in a decade.
Similarly, mortality due to another so-called "lifestyle" disease, diabetes, went up by more than 30 percent over the same period to 1.4 million.
Cancers — led by lung cancer — are also on the rise, accounting for nearly nine million deaths in 2016, 17 percent more than in 2006.
Tobacco is blamed for 7.1 million of those fatalities.
A TRIAD OF TROUBLE
Startlingly, the study finds that — combining the two extremes of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy eating in richer communities — poor diet is linked to one in five deaths worldwide.
"Among all forms of malnutrition, poor dietary habits — particularly low intake of healthy foods — is the leading risk factor for mortality," researchers concluded.
The studies, drawing from the input of 2,500 experts, also showed that one in seven people — 1.1 billion — are "living with mental health and substance use disorders".
Major depression ranked among the top ten causes of ill health in all but four of the 195 countries and territories covered.
Mental health services are chronically underfunded in most nations, especially in the developing world.
Less than one percent of national healthcare budgets in
The global population afflicted with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease stood at 2.6 million worldwide in 2016, a more than 40 percent surge from only a decade earlier.
Alcohol and drug use accounted for some 320,000 deaths, including 86,000 for opioids. Opioid abuse — mostly pharmaceutical — in
"We are facing a triad of trouble holding back many nations and communities — obesity, conflict and mental illness, including substance abuse disorders," said
Deaths attributed to conflict and terrorism — notably in
One bright spot was the better-than-expected health performance of several countries — including
"These exemplar countries may provide information on successful policies that have helped to accelerate progress on health," said Murray.
In several cases, that headway stemmed in part from the rollout of antiretroviral treatments for HIV/AIDS.