Chronic Illness, Global Burden, and the Pathways Approach

  • Angele McGrady
  • Donald Moss


This chapter proposes that the major challenge for human health in the twenty-first century is chronic diseases and chronic conditions. This is a global problem, burdening health care systems and economies worldwide. WHO statistics show that almost 70% of deaths annually are caused by chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Factors contributing to the increase in chronic illnesses worldwide are aging populations, rapid urbanization, and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles. This global burden of chronic disease is felt most strongly in minority and low-income populations and in developing countries. The first order of interventions includes community-based public health interventions, for example, initiatives to ban tobacco and alcohol advertising, replace trans fats with polyunsaturated fats, and increase breastfeeding. The chapter also introduces functional medicine and the Pathways approach to chronic conditions, two perspectives integrating a holistic evolutionary systems-based approach, with attention to lifestyle variables, affective regulation, early trauma, and environmental influences. The example of obesity is utilized to illustrate the influence of lifestyle, nutrition, stress, trauma, and the human biome on chronic conditions.


Chronic illness Global burden Functional medicine Obesity The human biome Stress Emotional dysregulation Adverse childhood experiences 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angele McGrady
    • 1
  • Donald Moss
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  2. 2.College of Integrative Medicine and Health SciencesSaybrook UniversityOaklandUSA

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