The world health statistics 2012 report, released by the World Health Organisation on Thursday, focuses on the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the world.

The report says that one in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure, which is directly responsible for a majority of deaths from strokes and heart disease. The report also points out that one in 10 adults globally has diabetes.

The WHO report includes information from 194 countries on the percentage of men and women with raised blood pressure and blood glucose levels.


Last year, a special report by the WHO on the burden of NCDs in the South East Asian Region (SEAR) had reported that cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and other chronic diseases resulted in 7.9 million deaths annually in the region and that one-third of these deaths were premature, occurring before the age of 60.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) alone accounted for 25 per cent of all deaths while chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs), cancers, and diabetes accounted for 9.6 per cent, 7.8 per cent, and 2.1 per cent of all deaths, respectively, the WHO-SEAR report said

It went on to say that CVD mortality in India in the 30–59 age group was twice than that in the U.S. and that nearly 52 per cent of CVD deaths in India occurred below the age of 70 years compared with 23 per cent in developed countries.

Kerala scene

The contents of the WHO report is unlikely to cause a flutter in the State which already has a dubious distinction as the ‘diabetes capital' in the country. Kerala is also only second to Punjab when it comes to obesity, especially among women (NFHS III)

The results from a community-based study of risk factors in the State, conducted jointly by the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, the public health wing of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology and the Indian Council for Medical Research, published in January 2010, reported the prevalence of diabetes in the population to be 16.2 per cent.

Hypertension or increased blood pressure was a whopping 32.7 per cent. It found 30.8 per cent of the study population (which included 7,449 individuals between 15 and 64 years of age, with 51 per cent being women) to be overweight. Abdominal obesity was 39.4 per cent. Cholesterol levels above 200mg/dl were found in 56.8 per cent of the population.

WHO has pointed out that demographic changes, rapid unplanned urbanization, and globalisation which popularised unhealthy lifestyle patterns and an obesogenic environment to be the major causes for the increasing burden of NCDs.


With public health professionals crying hoarse about the need to focus on preventive strategies for NCDs rather than treat those who are already burdened with NCDs, these days, minimising the risk factors for chronic diseases is slowly emerging as a priority.

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, a daily regimen of physical activity and most importantly, reducing one's body weight are the primary strategies being advised by physicians to maintain a healthy life indicators.