Laura Sharman 25 February 2020

Life expectancy stalls for the first time in a century

Life expectancy stalls for the first time in a century image

Life expectancy has stopped improving for the first time in more than 100 years, and has actually declined for England’s poorest women, according to a new study.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot has published a new update following his landmark review on health inequalities in England ten years ago.

He has found that health inequalities have widened in the past decade, with people spending more time in poor health since 2010.

Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On, published by the Institute of Health Equity, reveals that the more deprived the area, the shorter the life expectancy for people.

Professor Sir Marmot said: ‘This damage to the nation’s health need not have happened. It is shocking. The UK has been seen as a world leader in identifying and addressing health inequalities but something dramatic is happening. This report is concerned with England, but in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the damage to health and wellbeing is similarly unprecedented.’

He added: ‘Poverty has a grip on our nation’s health - it limits the options families have available to live a healthy life. Government health policies that focus on individual behaviours are not effective. Something has gone badly wrong. We will be monitoring and reporting on inequalities in health and expect the government to listen.’

The report calls on the Government to publish a national strategy for action on the social determinants of health, reduce child poverty by 10%, and monitor health inequalities.

Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, said: ‘Having secured new support from voters in ‘red wall’ areas, there is a real opportunity for the Government to show more leadership to narrow the health gap. Existing efforts are welcome but fragmented and under-powered.

‘We urgently need a new national health inequalities strategy, backed by investment in the factors that have the most powerful impact on health such as early years and youth services, housing, education, social security and good quality work.’

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