Health: Numerous Related Factors Influence Life Expectancies around the World, from Food Consumption to Medical Provision

Article excerpt

In much of the world, average life expectancies are increasing. The rises are attributed to improvements in agriculture and, hence, nutrition, as well as health education, improved sanitation and drinking water quality, together with advances in medicine. However, people in some parts of the developing world are still subject to poor provision of basic amenities.

Another problem facing people in the developing world is poor nutrition. The map at right shows that in much of Africa, Asia and Latin America, the average daily calorie supply per person is so low as to cause malnutrition. Malnutrition is a serious condition--among pregnant women, it causes high rates of child mortality.

Deficiency diseases occur when people don't have a balanced diet. Protein deficiency causes stunting and kwashiorkor, which can be fatal, especially among young children, while vitamin deficiencies cause such illnesses as beriberi, pellagra, scurvy and rickets.

Infectious diseases, in association with deficient diets, continue to affect people in developing countries. The major killers include AIDS, cholera, dysentery, malaria, respiratory infections, tuberculosis and typhoid.

Infectious diseases are much less important as causes of death in developing countries, where atherosclerosis and hypertension, which cause strokes and heart attacks, are the most common causes of fatality. …