Lower-back pain and neck pain are in the top four conditions responsible for the greatest overall health loss among people globally, according to The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, the world’s largest-ever investigation of global health, released on Dec. 14.

Involving 1,000 collaborators over five years, the study examines 291 conditions and 67 risk factors for 21 global regions.

Lower back pain, depression, iron-deficiency anemia, and neck pain were the top four conditions affecting health negatively.

Also among the results:

• The years that people are living with a disability is growing, particularly in high-income countries.

• The increase in disability has largely been driven by increases in population and population aging, and has important implications for health services.

In 2010, the two disease categories responsible for almost half of all years lived with disability, and therefore the largest overall health impact, were musculoskeletal disorders including back pain and arthritis, and mental-and-behavioral disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and drug and alcohol use disorders, according to a press release.

“As health care costs are rising fast, it is essential to provide governments with adequate information on how best to prioritize their health services to most adequately address the prevailing health problems,” noted Professors Alan Lopez and Theo Vos, both of the School of Population Health of the University of Queensland.

The study is co-authored by the Head of The University of Queensland’s School of Population Health, Professor Alan Lopez and the Director for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Dr Christopher Murray.