A study has revealed that people aged over 50 are less healthy than they were five years ago.
The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) detected a rise in sedentary behaviour among those born in 1960 or before, which had led to a marked increase in both waist size and weight since the research was last carried out.
The research found that people on low incomes were more likely to be obese because they exercise less frequently and ate fewer portions of fruit and vegetables than those who were more affluent.
The study also suggested that poorer people were more likely to suffer from hypertension and diabetes.
Around 43% of women with low incomes were obese, compared with only 28% of wealthy females, while only 39% of poor men ate five portions of fruit or vegetables a day, compared with 61% of their wealthier counterparts.
The ELSA also found evidence that biological ageing is slower among people with better socio-economic circumstances, and that levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, the hormone which predicts life expectancy, were lower in less wealthy people.
Work disabilities were also found to be most common among people from poorer backgrounds and those with lower levels of education, while they were particularly common among men in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.
The National Centre for Social Research questioned 10,860 people aged over 50 in 2008/09.