The U.N.’s Global Burden of Disease report — a five-year research effort of nearly 500 scientists in 50 countries — looked at the prevalence of disease and causes of death around the world in 1990 and compared it with health statistics in 2010 and noticed this trend, reported by New Scientist:
For the first time on a global scale, being overweight has become more of a health problem than lack of nutrition. In 1990, undernutrition was the leading cause of disease burden, measured as the number of years of healthy life an average person could expect to lose as a result of illness or early death. Back then, a high body-mass index, or BMI, was ranked tenth. Now, undernutrition has dropped to eighth place, while BMI has risen to become the sixth leading cause of disease burden.
Heart disease and stroke, which can be caused by being overweight, account for 25 percent of deaths worldwide. And, globally, it’s more likely that we will die from non-infectious diseases than infectious diseases like HIV or malaria. Overall we are living longer but “spending more of our lives living in poor health and with disability.”
The top 10 most burdensome global risk factors are: high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol use, household air pollution, low fruit intake, high body-mass index, high fasting plasma glucose, childhood underweight, particulate matter pollution, and physical inactivity (which wasn’t in the top 30 in 1990).
Overeating now bigger global problem than lack of food [New Scientist]