World Gastroenterology Organisation

Global Guardian of Digestive Health. Serving the World.


Global Trends in GI Diseases – The Good News and the Bad News

Review by Prof. Eamonn Quigley

Study Summary 

GI problems are common worldwide but detailed epidemiological data are limited to the developed world. Using the Global Burden of Diseases survey, this study examined trends in common GI diseases between 1990 and 2019. While GI diseases remained very common (incidence 7.3 billion cases - largely due to enteric infections) and important (8 million deaths – cirrhosis a major factor) prevalence remained stable. The overall death rate and impact on quality of life declined. There were some notable trends for individual disorders with significant declines for gastric, esophageal and liver cancer, IBD and acute hepatitis while colorectal and pancreatic cancer became more common. Prevalence was significantly influenced by geography and socioeconomic status.


This study provides a valuable overview of recent trends in some common GI diseases. It is not comprehensive as it does not include some of the most common disorders, such as IBS and GERD (for details on these see the Rome Foundation Global epidemiology studies) but does capture data on important conditions such as GI cancer and cirrhosis. Sadly, in the 21st century, enteric infections still loom large and are intimately tied to socioeconomic status and geographic location; an indictment of a global failure to address poverty. Some battles are being won – against acute hepatitis and gastric cancer, for example. Meanwhile, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer have emerged as major causes of mortality in more affluent populations.


Wang Y, et al. Gastroenterology 2023;165:773-83.

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