The Health of Aging Populations in China and India

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 27, no. 4, July 2008, p. 1052-1063

by Somnath Chatterji, Paul Kowal, Colin Mathers, Nirmala Naidoo, Emese Verdes, James P. Smith, Richard Suzman

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China and India are home to two of the world's largest populations, and both populations are aging rapidly. Our data compare health status, risk factors, and chronic diseases among people age forty-five and older in China and India. By 2030, 65.6 percent of the Chinese and 45.4 percent of the Indian health burden are projected to be borne by older adults, a population with high levels of noncommunicable diseases. Smoking (26 percent in both China and India) and inadequate physical activity (10 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively) are highly prevalent. Health policy and interventions informed by appropriate data will be needed to avert this burden. By 2030, older adults will bear two-thirds of the total disease burden in China and nearly half in India.

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