Human capital is recognised as the level of education and health in a population and is considered an important determinant of economic growth. The World Bank has called for measurement and annual reporting of human capital to track and motivate investments in health and education and enhance productivity.

Quantification of the disease burden caused by different risks informs prevention by providing an account of health loss different to that provided by a disease-by-disease analysis. No complete revision of global disease burden caused by risk factors has been done since a comparative risk assessment in 2000, and no previous analysis has assessed changes in burden attributable to risk factors over time.