Capitalizing on the demographic transition: tackling noncommunicable diseases in South Asia

A new World Bank report warns that South Asian countries are facing a health crisis with rising rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which disproportionately affect poor families, with possible side effects of disability and premature death, and worsening poverty as people pay for medical treatment out of their own pockets.According to the new report "Capitalizing on the Demographic Transition: Tackling Noncommunicable Diseases in South Asia" heart disease in the region is now the leading cause of death in adults aged 15-69, and South Asians suffer their first heart attacks six years earlier than other groups worldwide. A recent study of 52 countries from all over the world, including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, found that South Asians were six years younger (53 vs. 59 years) than those in the rest of the world at their first heart attack and had high levels of risk factors, such as diabetes and high lipids and low levels of physical activity and healthy dietary habits.