October 28, 2009 / 7:35 AM / in 10 years

FACTBOX: World's leading global health risks

(Reuters) - Tackling five health factors could prevent millions of premature deaths and increase global life expectancy by almost 5 years, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday in its report on Global Health Risks.

Here are some numbers and details:



High blood pressure 7.5 12.8

Tobacco use 5.1 8.7

High blood glucose 3.4 5.8

Physical inactivity 3.2 5.5

Overweight & obesity 2.8 4.8

High cholesterol 2.6 4.5

Unsafe sex 2.4 4.0

Alcohol use 2.3 3.8

Childhood underweight 2.2 3.8

Indoor smoke from 2.0 3.3

solid fuels


Worldwide, Africa accounts for nine out of every 10 child deaths due to malaria, for nine out of every 10 child deaths due to AIDS, and for half of the world’s child deaths due to diarrhoeal disease and pneumonia.

A total of 10.4 million children died in 2004, mostly in low to middle-income countries. An estimated 39 percent of these deaths (4.1 million) were caused by poor nutrition, a lack of breast-feeding and preventable environmental risks.


In low-income countries, the leading cause of death is pneumonia, followed by heart disease, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS and strokes.

In developed or high-income countries, the list is topped by heart disease, followed by stroke, lung cancer, pneumonia and asthma or bronchitis.

Men aged between 15 and 60 have a much higher risk of dying than women the same age in every region of the world.

This is mainly because of injuries, including those caused by violence and conflict, and higher levels of heart disease. The difference is most pronounced in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Depression is the leading cause of years lost due to illness, the burden being 50 percent higher for females than males.

In all income areas, alcohol dependence and problem use is among the 10 leading causes of poor health.

Sources: Reuters/WHO

NOTE: The WHO’s Global Health risks report used data from 2004, the latest global data available.

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