New United European Gastroenterology report reveals major health and economic impact of digestive diseases in Europe

VIENNA, October 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Data from a new pan-European study on the burden of digestive diseases, presented today at UEG Week 2022 and published in the United European Journal of Gastroenterology, highlights a worrying increase in the prevalence of several digestive diseases since 2000. These include chronic liver disease, pancreatitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis, intestinal vascular disorders and celiac disease in children. In addition, the incidence and mortality rates for all digestive cancers combined increased by 26% and 17% respectively over the period 2000-2019.

The report identifies that digestive diseases affect more than 300 million people across Europe and the Mediterranean region and that the associated economic costs are substantial. The incidence and prevalence of many digestive diseases are highest in the very young and the elderly, and as Europe’s population ages, this disease burden will inevitably increase.

Age-standardized incidence and mortality have been shown to have increased for liver and pancreatic cancer in most European countries since 2000, alcohol consumption, obesity and other modifiable factors lifestyle-related being identified as major contributors to a significant portion of the overall burden of these digestive disorders.

Researchers have observed rising trends in the burden of digestive disease due to high body mass index across the continent. And, although progress has been made in reducing the alcohol-attributable burden since the year 2000, alcohol consumption remains a major contributor to the burden of disease. One of the positive news emerging from the study is the reduction in the health burden of smoking in almost all European countries, in line with national intervention strategies.

In terms of the economic burden of digestive diseases, the UEG report finds that, on average, the estimated cost of providing inpatient health services (excluding treatment and diagnosis) for digestive diseases as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.12% across the 31 countries included in the study. This translates into a potential cost across the EU of around $20 billion in 2021.

Luigi RicciardielloPresident of the UEG Research Committee, commented: “Strong inequalities in health persist across Europe and, with emerging economic challenges, we expect these inequalities to be further exacerbated. Unfortunately, despite their substantial prevalence and global impact, many digestive diseases are still poorly understood and attract relatively little attention, either politically or financially.”

SOURCE United European Gastroenterology (UEG)

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