Latest estimates for global causes of death and disease

In fact, last year, deaths among children under the age of five fell to fewer than five million for the first time. The GBD is the only annual, comprehensive, peer-reviewed assessment of global trends in health, providing global and national estimates on more than 330 diseases, causes of death, and injuries in 195 countries and territories worldwide.

However, the total number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases increased by 16 percent from 2006 to 2016, meaning there were an extra 5.5 million deaths from these conditions in 2016 compared to 10 years earlier. It collects mortality information from every nation and projects metrics like years of life lost and early death risk due to a disease or lifestyle and environmental factors.

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.

Mental illness and substance use disorders continued to contribute substantially to the loss of healthy life in 2016, affecting all countries regardless of their socioeconomic status.

"Regionally, 24·8 per cent of under-five deaths in 2016 occurred in South Asia (1·2 million deaths, 95 per cent UI 1·2 million to 1·3 million), with a further 28·1 per cent in western sub-Saharan Africa (1·4 million deaths, 1·3 million to 1·6 million), and 16·3 per cent in eastern sub-Saharan Africa (0·8 million, 0·8 million to 0·9 million)". Ischemic heart disease was the leading cause of premature death for men in 113 countries and for women in 97 countries.

Heart disease was the leading cause of premature death in most regions and killed 9.48 million people globally a year ago.

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

Overall, deaths from infectious diseases have decreased.

The same can not be said for viral hepatitis, which killed 1.34 million people in 2016 - 22% more than in 2000, according to the World Health Organisation. For example, 1.21 million people died previous year from tuberculosis (TB), a 20% fall since 2006.

The research also found that the number of deaths from war, firearms, and terrorism has increased. Some 10,900 such deaths were reported in 2016 - a 67% increase since 2006. That means millions of people are consuming too much salt and sugar and not enough whole grains, fruits, seeds, nuts, and fish oils. In addition, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI), and high total cholesterol, were all in the top ten leading risk factors for death for men and women globally.

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". 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.

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.

Vanessa Coleman

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