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.
What seems to be driving this early mortality is the speed with which those in developing countries have adopted the least healthy habits of the west. This is particularly true of urban and wealthier classes. In China, where business relationships are often cemented with gifts of packets of cigarettes, with each brand having its own connotation, the great scourge is tobacco. The majority of Chinese men smoke. The same unhealthy behaviours cause diseases in the same way across the globe. Today, only half of new cancer cases occur in developing countries, but as their citizens start smoking more and westerners smoke less, the developing world’s share of new cancer victims will inevitably exceed those of the west.