5 diseases that kill 16M people, cost the world economy $2.35T annually

Five non-communicable diseases that kill 16 million people around the world each year are projected to take a $47 trillion total toll on worldwide economic activity over the next 20 years, according to a report from the World Economic Forum and Willis Towers Watson.

However, the burden of these five diseases could be significantly reduced by improving individual behavior and consumer choice, according to the report. The study suggests the healthcare ecosystem needs to shift to prevention over treatment when it comes to population health management.

"The report on behavioral economics teaches us that humans don't always make the best decisions. Instead, they often fail to adopt healthy behavior, despite an understanding of the importance of their personal health," Jeff Levin-Scherz, MD, North American co-lead of Willis Towers Watson's Health Management practice, said in a press release. "The implications for global employers are clear; they can create environments that make it easier for employees to make healthier decisions, which will improve health and increase global productivity."

Here are the five non-communicable diseases that are most costly in terms of lives and dollars on a global level.

1. Cardiovascular disease
2. Mental illness
3. Cancer
4. Chronic respiratory disease
5. Diabetes

The model of care suggested in the report puts an emphasis on reducing risk factors associated with these diseases. The top identified risk factors include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, inadequate exercise, indoor and outdoor air pollution and excessive alcohol consumption. Among those risk factors, the U.S. exceeds the global average for prevalence on three: prevalence of BMI above 30, total alcohol consumption and prevalence of physical inactivity.

The report's authors suggest stakeholders across the board will need to contribute to the solution, including employers, governments and community groups. "All organizations, public or private, regardless of sector, can influence positive behavior changes among individuals. From making information more readily available, to an adjustment in an individual's behavior, all have the potential for a large-scale impact," Arnaud Bernaert, head of global health and healthcare at the World Economic Forum, said in a press release.

 

More articles on population health:

Low-income elderly patients more likely to have multiple chronic diseases
An increase in fruit & vegetable intake reduces COPD risk in smokers, study finds
US reproductive rates down by 10%

 

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