(HealthDay News) – Although life expectancy is increasing, global estimates of healthy life expectancy indicate that the world’s population loses more years of healthy life to disability today than in the past, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, published in the Dec. 15 special issue of The Lancet.

A total of 486 authors from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle and other collaborating institutions conducted a systematic and comprehensive assessment of global data on disease, injuries, and risk factors in 50 countries.

The report, comprising seven studies and eight commentaries, focuses on different aspects of the global burden of disease. From 1970–2010, global life expectancy increased by about 20% for men and women. From 1990–2010, there was a decrease in the number of deaths due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional causes, while non-communicable deaths continued to increase and in 2010 were the leading contributor to the global burden of disease. In 2010, high blood pressure and tobacco smoking were estimated to be the two most important risk factors contributing to the global burden of disease. In global estimates of healthy life expectancy, the world’s population lost more years of healthy life to disability in 2010 than in 1990.

“For decision-makers, health-sector leaders, researchers, and informed citizens, the global burden of disease approach provides an opportunity to see the big picture; to compare diseases, injuries, and risk factors; and to understand in a given place, time, and age-sex group, what are the most important contributors to health loss,” Christopher Murray, MD, DPhil, director of the IHME, said in a statement.

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