Geneva: One in every three adults worldwide suffers from high blood pressure and almost one in 10 has diabetes, according to a new World Health Organisation report released Wednesday.
The "World health statistics 2012" report, which for the first time put the spotlight on the growing problem of the non-communicable diseases burden, claims that one in three adults worldwide has raised blood pressure that causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease.
Similarly, one in 10 adults aged 25 years and more has diabetes, a condition that puts one at risk of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness, said the report, highlighting the growing problem of the non-communicable diseases burden for the first time.
It also provided the clearest ever evidence of the spread of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease from rich countries to poorer nations such as in Africa, as lifestyles and diets are changing there.
"This report is further evidence of the dramatic increase in the conditions that trigger heart disease and other chronic illnesses, particularly in low- and middle-income countries," Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, said in a release.
"In some African countries, as much as half the adult population has high blood pressure."
The report, which includes information from 194 countries on the percentage of men and women with raised blood pressure and blood glucose levels, noted that widespread diagnosis and treatment with low-cost medication have significantly reduced mean blood pressure and deaths from it in developed countries.
However, in Africa, more than 40 per cent (and up to 50 per cent) of adults in many countries are estimated to have high blood pressure, it said.
Most of these people remain undiagnosed, although many of these cases could be treated with low-cost medications, which would significantly reduce the risk of death and disability from heart disease and stroke.
Also included for the first time in the WHO World health statistics are data on people with raised blood glucose levels. While the global average prevalence is around 10 per cent, up to one third of populations in some Pacific Island countries have this condition.
"In every region of the world, obesity doubled between 1980 and 2008," said Dr Ties Boerma, Director of the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems at WHO. "Today, half a billion people (12 per cent of the world`s population) are considered obese."
The highest obesity levels are in the WHO Region of the Americas (26 per cent of adults) and the lowest in the WHO South-East Asia Region (3 per cent obese). In all parts of the world, women are more likely to be obese than men, and thus at greater risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, it said.
The WHO report also said deaths in children aged under five years dropped from almost 10 million in 2000 to 7.6 million a decade later, with the decline in deaths from measles and diarrhoea-related disease.