Findings of the Global Burden of Disease study have shown that smoking continues to be a leading killer despite efforts to spread awareness about its health risks.

Tobacco, which caused 7.1 million fatalities worldwide last year, is associated with a range of health conditions, which include cancer and respiratory diseases. 

The study revealed that overall deaths from preterm birth and infectious diseases are decreasing, but the world sees a rise in deaths due to heart disease, conflict, and terrorism.

Poor Diet And Mental Health Issues

Poor diet was associated with 1 in 5 deaths worldwide in 2016. The report also revealed that 1.1 billion people suffered from mental health and substance use disorders last year. Major depression is included as one of the top 10 causes of poor health in all but four countries involved in the study. Rates of death linked to use of opioid, amphetamine and other drugs increased, particularly in high-income countries. 


Non-communicable diseases were responsible for nearly three-quarters of the 54.7 million deaths worldwide, or 72 percent of all fatalities worldwide. Noncommunicable diseases are those that cannot pass from one person to another such as stroke, cancer, and heart disease.

Heart disease is attributed to 9.5 million deaths, marking a 19 percent increase since 2006. Diabetes is also responsible for 1.43 million deaths, a 31 percent increase since 2006.

About 19 percent of deaths were from communicable diseases, maternal diseases, neonatal diseases and nutritional diseases.

Conflicts And Terrorism

The research also found that the number of deaths from war, firearms, and terrorism has increased. The number of fatalities linked to conflict and terrorism reached 150,500 in 2016, which marks an increase of 143 percent since 2006. The increase is largely due to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

The overall findings, however, showed that death rates in all age groups have declined with the largest drop seen in children below 5 years old. Fatalities in this age group fell to fewer than 5 million in 2016, marking a significant drop from 16.4 million in 1970.

"Total deaths in children younger than 5 years decreased from 1970 to 2016, and slower decreases occurred at ages 5-24 years. By contrast, numbers of adult deaths increased in each 5-year age bracket above the age of 25 years," reported Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues in their study.

The findings, which were based on data from 195 countries and territories, were published in The Lancet on Sept. 14.

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