Global burden of disease attributable to high body mass index


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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An analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study showed that the number of global deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) attributable to high body mass index (BMI) has substantially increased between 1990 and 2017.

The researchers used the modelling framework in the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 to examine the global deaths and DALYs attributable to high BMI, analysing them by age, sex, year, geographical location, and socio-demographic index.

The results show that globally, in 2017, high BMI caused 2.4 million deaths and 70.7 million DALYs in females, and 2.3 million deaths and 77.0 million DALYs in males. Despite the fact that the age-standardised rate of high-BMI related DALYs increased by only 12.7% for females and 26.8% for males between 1990 and 2017, the global number of high-BMI-related DALYs has more than doubled for both sexes.

Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of high-BMI-related DALYs, followed by diabetes, kidney diseases, and neoplasms. Together, they accounted for 89.3% of all high-BMI-related DALYs.

These findings published in PLoS Medicine suggest that high BMI remains a major global health challenge and successful population-wide initiatives targeting high BMI may mitigate the burden of a wide range of diseases.