Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

Published May 16, 2024

In The Lancet, we have published the findings of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2021 in a series of six Articles. GBD began in 1991 and has continued over the past three decades to provide a comprehensive empirical assessment of health around the world. 

With each iteration GBD has become more detailed, including more causes, risks, and locations, improving granularity of age group analyses, and has enabled the completion of extension studies, such as forecasting studies and estimations of the burden of antimicrobial resistance. 

This greater detail has been possible because of the large increase in primary data sources, with 328 938 different sources used in GBD 2021, enabling the calculation of more than 607 billion estimates. 

However, notably, many data gaps remain in low-resource settings. The publication of the high-level summary of our findings across these six Articles provides readers with a summary of the most notable trends and main dimensions of disparity across groups based on age, sex, location, and sociodemographic index globally. 

In GBD 2021, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, through myriad mechanisms, is a central theme, but GBD reminds us that other macro trends have continued even as the world has gone through a major health shock. Our Article on forecasts 6 for GBD also highlights that future trends might be quite different to past trends because of factors such as the obesity epidemic, the increase in substance-use disorders, and climate change, while also underlining the tremendous opportunities to alter the trajectory of health for the next generation.

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