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New Burden of Disease study shows world’s people living longer but with more disability

The health of most of the planet’s population is rapidly coming to resemble that of the United States, where death in childhood is rare, too much food is a bigger problem than too little, and life is long and often darkened by disability.

High blood pressure is now the leading “risk factor” for disease around the world. Alcohol use is third. Low-back pain now causes more disability than childbirth complications or anemia.

“We are in transition to a world where disability is the dominant concern as opposed to premature death,” said Christopher J.L. Murray, who headed the Global Burden of Disease Study, published Thursday. “The pace of change is such that we are ill prepared to deal with what the burden of disease is now in most places.”

Produced over five years by 486 researchers at 302 institutions in 50 countries, the study is the most detailed look at health on the population level ever attempted.
 
 

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