New Delhi: More than 95% of the world has health problems, and a third of the world’s population (2.3 billion individuals) is experiencing more than five ailments, according to a new analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2013 published in The Lancet journal on Monday.

As the world’s population grows and the proportion of elderly people increases, the number of people with sub-optimum health will rise rapidly over the coming decades, the authors of the study say.

The analysis revealed that the leading causes of health loss have hardly changed. They include lower back pain, depression, iron-deficiency, anaemia and neck pain. Age-related hearing loss resulted in the largest overall health loss worldwide measured in terms of years lived in disability.

In 2013, musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back pain, neck pain and arthritis, and mental and substance abuse disorders such as depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol use disorders were the cause of almost half of all health loss.

The study found that while there is an increase in rates of diseases in people, death rates are not rising sharply. For example, while rates of diabetes rose by around 43% between 1990 and 2013, death rates from diabetes increased by only 9%. “The fact that mortality is declining faster than non-fatal disease and injury prevalence is further evidence of the importance of paying attention to the rising health loss from these leading causes of disability, and not simply focusing on reducing mortality," says Theo Vos, lead author and professor of Global Health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, in a press release.

For the purpose of this analysis funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the authors looked at 35,620 sources of information on disease and injury from 188 countries between 1990 and 2013 to show 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries as well as 2,337 health consequences (sequelae) resulting from one or more of these disorders.

The study found that while lower back pain and major depression ranked among the top 10 contributors to disability in every country, eight causes of chronic disorders affected more than 10% of the world population in 2013: with cavities in permanent teeth affecting 2.4 billion, tension-type headaches affecting 1.6 billion, iron-deficiency anaemia affecting 1.2 billion, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency trait affecting 1.18 billion, age-related hearing loss affecting 1.23 billion, genital herpes affecting 1.12 billion, migraine affecting 850 million, and ascariasis affecting 800 million. In Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS was a key driver of rising number of years lived with disability

Another important finding was that a sharp increase in health loss-associated four ailments in 23 years. Diabetes saw an increase of 136%, Alzheimer’s disease rose 92%, medication overuse 120%, and osteoarthritis saw a 75% increase.

“Large, preventable causes of health loss, particularly serious musculoskeletal disorders and mental and behavioural disorders, have not received the attention that they deserve. Addressing these issues will require a shift in health priorities around the world, not just to keep people alive into old age, but also to keep them healthy," noted Vos.