Extraordinary figures reveal extent of how unhealthy the world is

Humankind is unhealthy, with only one in 20 people going through 2013 without an illness, according to a new international study.

The Global Burden of Disease Study, published in Lancet magazine, found that 95% of the world's population had an ailment in 2013, while one person in three (a total of 2.3bn people) have five ailments or more.

The five most common ailments in New Zealand were lower back pain, depression, neck pain, anxiety and musculoskeletal problems, with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) not far behind.

"Fortunately some of the disability burden is preventable", Otago University epidemiologist Nick Wilson told ONE News.

"To some extent back pain can be prevented by reducing obesity levels in society [while] asthma and COPD are partly preventable", he said.

ACC paid out $354 million in back-and-spine related injury claims in the 12 months to June 2014, up from $320m in the previous year but still below the 2010 figure of $364m.

Associate Professor Wilson said the findings "highlight the value of the New Zealand government's goal of a Smokefree Nation by 2025".

Diabetes is also partly preventable, this requires further improvements in the NZ dietary environment. Also we need to make New Zealand towns and cities more supportive of physical activity."

The international study also found a drastic increase in global health loss associated with diabetes, Alzheimer's, medication overuse headache and osteoarthritis.

Man with back pain.

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