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UK life expectancy 'on the rise'


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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Readers' comments (6)

  • Does not appear? Rubbish. I think this says more for the quality of the health care rather than the negative effects of poor lifestyle choices.

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  • i agree, iron mike, i'd hate to see statistics knock you off your soapbox! it'd be too upsetting to find that after years of punishing exercise, boring food and refraining from guilty pleasures you end up sharing a nursing home with slobs and ravers.

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  • Life has to be about a balance. If you live through punishing exercise, boring food and refraining from guilty pleasures all your life them maybe you may enjoy the rave in your nursing home. Come on guys, stop being so up yourselves. Don't assume that society is divided between the 2 extremes. A little of what you fancy does you good now and again. Sadly life carries no guarantees.

    Back to the article, I must say this evidence is surprising. It is suggesting that the trend is due to a balance between improved healthcare and a reduction in health risks. Can one deduce that obesity isn't the biggest risk factor to longevity? I am not advocating obesity, but we all have choices in the way we live, but too many McDonalds, Pizza Huts, etc. are tempting the young. My BMI is and has always been within normal limits.

    There is bound to be more research that stands this on it's head, as time goes by.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Mar-2011 2:59 pm, grow up. Whilst you were ranting you missed my point completely.

    Poor lifestyle choices (such as obesity for just ONE example of many) haven't just suddenly got better for us overnight. Those who still indulge in extremes of poor lifestyles will still have relatively low life expectancies compared to those of us who have healthy lifestyles (and yes 2nd anon, that includes the occassional treat or balance within that).

    My point was that I think those with poor lifestyle choices are living longer due solely to the quality of the healthcare provided to them, rather than any lifestyle choices they make (which is superficially what the article seems to be suggesting!)

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  • UK life expectancy 'on the rise'

    Not looking good on the pension front.

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  • sorry if i missed your point, i'll try growing up. this article today in the lancet looks at whether bmi, waist circumference, or hip to waist ratio are predictive of first onset cardiovascular disease:

    221 934 people in 17 countries, various factors controlled for. the result? bmi, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio, measured singly or in combination, are not predictive of first onset cardiovascular disease. note, this is first onset, so is not due to excellent coronary care unit or district nursing.

    but, hey, let's not let statistics get in the way of a good argument!

    i've nothing against anybody who enjoys exercise, good food and a healthy lifestyle. that's their choice. but my attitude to the health police is another matter entirely.

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