Developing Countries Struggling with Western Lifestyle Illnesses

Saw a great article this morning courtesy of Tim O’Reilly about how more and more developing countries are starting to deal less with infectious diseases and more with the ‘lifestyle diseases’ that plague most western countries such as Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, etc.

And of course, obeisity. Did you know that in 2000, there were more overweight people in the world than underweight?

Very in depth article and certainly worth the read. A couple of highlights:

But the second decline in life expectancy is also alarming for today’s Chinese, Indians and urban Africans. This was the decline that hit eastern Europe after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Health services and established social structures fell apart, and stress and depression increased. One result was that alcoholism soared. By 1992, some of the new kiosks along Moscow’s boulevards sold a liquid advertised as “100 per cent alcohol”. Other Russians drank eau de toilette or medicinal alcohol. In 1990, the average Russian man’s life expectancy had been 64 years. By 2005, it was just 59. A study published in The Lancet last year, conducted in Izhevsk, a typical Russian city, between 2003 and 2005, showed that 43 per cent of all deaths in men of working age were due to hazardous drinking. If these figures were extrapolated for Russia as a whole, it would translate into 170,000 excess deaths a year in Russia for men aged 25 to 54.

Will Wealth Destruction Breed Necessary Innovations?

I got a great tweet on the wire today from Tim O’Reily who is one of the kings of Twitter, but also a really smart guy. It was link to a column from Scott Adams (Dilbert) about the economy and where he sees it going.

Some Excerpts:

“I wonder what people mean when they say the economy will recover in 2010. The only way that can happen is if another irrational bubble forms thus creating an illusion of wealth similar to our previous illusions. If you take illusions out of the equation, there isn’t anything to get “back” to. The wealth was never there in the first place.”

“In California we’re facing a severe budget deficit, and this will demand cuts in education among other things. I can imagine a future economy where everyone is home schooled over the Internet, and the average result is an improvement. With the Internet you could leverage the best teaching methods to the entire country. No one gets the bad teacher or the disruptive class. There are no bullies and no cliques.”

He goes on to talk about how things like wasting of resources will just no longer be tolerated because it will be absolutely necessary for societies to run lean. But that this problem along with the Internet may finally make us as a society make fundamental changes in the ways we think about recycling, transportation, education and commerce. Look, there are a lot of trade offs, and things are much more grey than black and white especially when it comes to the benefits of social interation….

…And rethink we must. I often think about city skyscrapers, or my own office building for that matter and how many resources are consumed every day by utilities, heat, plumbing, and transportation, when most people (myself included) take up an office or a cube and sit in front of a computer all day.