The obesity epidemic does not appear to be having an adverse effect on life expectancy rates in Europe, with Britons living longer than their American counterparts, a study has revealed.
An analysis of trends over the last 40 years seemingly dispels the notion that health problems related to obesity would prevent life expectancy figures from rising in developed countries.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine epidemiologist and population health expert David Leon concluded that life expectancies in most European countries have been going in a “positive direction” in the last five years, although he conceded that the gap between East and West remains entrenched.
He said: “Despite what many may have assumed, and without being complacent, current trends in European life expectancy are in a positive direction.
“But while the European experience since 1980 underlines the centrality of the social, political and economic determinants of health, many intriguing and important questions remain unanswered about the drivers of these extraordinary trends.”
Professor Leon added cardiovascular-related deaths in the UK had seen “some of the largest and most rapid falls of any Western European country, partly due to improvements in treatment as well as reductions in smoking and other risk factors”.
In 2007, an American’s average life expectancy was 78 years, compared with 80 for Britons. According to the World Health Organisation and the Human Mortality Database, British male life expectancy stood at 77.9 and female life expectancy stood at 82 in 2008, while Russian men could expect to live to 61.8 and women to 74.2.
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