The #1 reason people die early, in each country

The #1 reason people die early, in each country

August 15, 2019 100 By Bertrand Dibbert


150,000 people are going to die today. And one of the brutally unfair realities of
life is that where you are born can dramatically change how and at what age
you die. There’s a really fascinating measurement called
“years of life lost” which measures how many years shy of the realistic
life expectancy people die. So if a person can hope to live to age 86
but they die in a car accident at age 21, those 65 years are considered “lost years
of life” due to car accidents. It’s basically a way to measure why people
are dying early. Hundreds of researchers from around the world
collaborated to collect and analyze that data for each country, and the result is this map. It shows the leading cause of early death
in each country for 2013. Look at Africa. People die early here mainly
because of infectious diseases like Pneumonia, Malaria, and Diarrhea which are easily treated
in places with stronger health infrastructures. And people are dying young in these places:
4 out of every 10 deaths in these poor countries are among people under 15. Meanwhile in Saudia Arabia… Even though half of the population is forbidden
to drive, traffic accidents are the number one cause of lost years of life. There’s a big trend among young guys to see
how crazy they can get on the road. Between that and the lax speed limit enforcement,
19 people die every day on Saudi roads. It’s the same problem facing young guys in
neighboring countries. Over in Venezuela, 25,000 people were killed
in homicides last year making violence the leading cause of years lost. Only around 8% of crimes are prosecuted, so
gang violence usually goes unchecked. It’s a similar situation in neighboring Colombia. Syria, where a bloody conflict rages on, war
was the leading cause of lost life. In China, a lot of people are dying from stroke.
This is actually an indicator of a major transition in the region. As the economy in China has industrialized
and surged over the past 3 decades, infectious diseases like the ones we saw in Africa, dropped
dramatically due to better health infrastructure. But a stronger economy means eating more fat
and sugar, moving less, and breathing in a lot more air pollution. Plus they are living longer. All of these
factors increase the likelihood of stroke. Then there’s the wealthier countries, where
heart disease is the number one cause of early death. Strangely, it’s actually the sign of the privilege
of old age since heart disease is generally considered an age-related disease. See, in poor countries, the biggest threat
is diseases that kill people early on in life. But in rich countries, death typically comes
after a much longer life, even if it is earlier than the life expectancy. So the good news is that, overall, “years
of life lost” are decreasing in almost every category worldwide. People are living longer overall. So even though all of this talk about death
seems kind of depressing, it’s actually really good news.