Obesity, High Blood Sugar Lead to Increased Ill-health, Global Study Finds

Mon May 20 2024
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LONDON: A major international study published in The Lancet revealed alarming trends in global health, showing that obesity, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure, among other metabolic issues, now contribute to almost 50 percent more years of healthy life lost to either disease or premature death than in 2000.

The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2021 utilized data from 204 countries and territories to identify the leading causes worldwide of illness and early death, measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

The study highlighted a clear shift in global health challenges as populations age and lifestyles change, with air pollution remaining the biggest risk factor in both the 2000 and 2021 data. However, the results were not uniform, as undernutrition remained a significant risk factor in sub-Saharan Africa.

Among 15-to-49-year-olds worldwide, ill-health was increasingly attributed to a high body-mass index (BMI) and high blood sugar, both of which are risk factors for the development of diabetes.

Lead research scientist Liane Ong from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which led the study, emphasized the potential for future trends to differ due to factors such as climate change, increasing obesity, and addiction.

An accompanying study from the Global Burden of Diseases team projected that life expectancy is expected to rise by 4.5 years by 2050, from 73.6 years to 78.1 years. The most significant increases are anticipated in countries with lower existing estimates, indicating a convergence of life expectancies globally.

However, while people are expected to live longer, they are likely to experience more years spent in poor health, as forecasted by the study.


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