Comparative risk assessment collaborating group: selected major risk factors and global and regional burden of disease

Comparative risk assessment collaborating group: selected major risk factors and global and regional burden of disease

Reliable and comparable analysis of risks to health is key for preventing disease and injury. Causal attribution of morbidity and mortality to risk factors has traditionally been in the context of individual risk factors, often in a limited number of settings, restricting comparability. The aim of the authors of this article was to estimate the contributions of selected major risk factors to global and regional burden of disease in a unified framework.

They found that  the leading causes on global burden of disease were:

  • childhood and maternal underweight
  • unsafe sex
  • high blood pressure
  • tobacco
  • alcohol.

In the poorest regions of the world, childhood and maternal underweight, unsafe sex, unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene, indoor smoke from solid fuels, and various micronutrient deficiencies were major contributors to loss of healthy life. In both developing and developed regions, alcohol, tobacco, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol were major causes of disease burden.

The article concludes that substantial proportions of global disease burden are attributable to these major risks, to an extent greater than previously estimated. Developing countries suffer most or all of the burden due to many of the leading risks. Strategies that target these known risks can provide substantial and underestimated public-health gains.

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