Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Taiwan National Burden of Disease Study Reveals Impact of Modifiable Risk Factors on Mortality in Taiwan

An evidence-based comparative risk assessment revealed that substantial mortality burden and premature deaths could be attributable to cardiometabolic risk factors, tobacco smoking, alcohol use, viral hepatitis, and ambient air pollution among Taiwanese adults. The study was led by Wei-Cheng Lo, a doctoral student from the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University. The investigators estimated the number of deaths and years of life lost that were attributable to 13 metabolic, lifestyle, infectious, and environmental risk factors in Taiwan. These findings were published in Population Health Metrics in May.

In Taiwan, non-communicable diseases continue to be the leading causes of deaths and disability and constitute a substantial part of national expenditure. Quantitative analyses on how different risk factors contribute to the overall disease burden provide critical information for health policymaking and priority-setting. The research team estimated and compared the impacts of modifiable risk factors on major causes of mortality, by using data from nationally representative surveys and vital registry. The team found that high blood glucose, tobacco smoking, and high blood pressure were the top three risk factors for mortality in Taiwan population. The analysis shows that 14,900 deaths or 10.4 percent of all deaths in 2009 are due to high blood glucose. It was followed by tobacco smoking (13,340 deaths), high blood pressure (11,190 deaths), ambient particulate matter pollution (8,600 deaths), and dietary risks (high sodium intake and low intake of fruits and vegetables, 7,890 deaths). Overweight-obesity and physical inactivity accounted for 7,620 deaths, and 7,400 deaths, respectively. For domestic risk factors, infections from hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) were responsible for 6,300 deaths and 3,170 deaths, respectively, and betel nut use was associated with 1,780 deaths from cancers.

“Our integrative analysis provides an aerial view of distribution and determinants of population health. Aggressive and integrated intervention strategies are urgently needed to save tens of thousands of years of life lost,” notes Dr. Hsien-Ho Lin, associate professor from NTU College of Public Health and senior author of this study. A large number of years of life would be gained if the 13 modifiable risk factors could be removed or reduced to the optimal level. The landscape of disease burden attributable to risk factors will help to guide prevention efforts and health policies for policy makers.

Source: Lo, W. C., Ku, C. C., Chiou, S. T., Chan, C. C., Chen, C. L., Lai, M. S., & Lin, H. H.. Adult mortality of diseases and injuries attributable to selected metabolic, lifestyle, environmental, and infectious risk factors in Taiwan: a comparative risk assessment. Population Health Metrics, 2017, 15(1), 17.