William Eichler 11 September 2018

UK plagued by ‘stubborn’ health inequalities

A report looking at the state of the nation’s health has revealed that the rich live nearly 20 more years than the poor on average.

The Health Profile for England report, published by Public Health England, found that life expectancy in England has risen to 79.6 years for men and 83.2 for women.

It also reported that we are ‘healthier at every age group than ever before.’

However, it warned that ‘stubborn inequalities persist’, with people living in the richest areas enjoying 19 more years in good health than those in the poorest areas.

‘Inequalities in health undermine not only the health of the people but also our economy,’ said Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England.

‘As we work to develop the NHS long term plan, we must set the ambition high. If done right, with prevention as its centrepiece, the payoff of a healthier society and more sustainable NHS will be huge.’

The PHE report also found that women’s health in Britain is faring worse than their European counterparts, with the UK ranked 18th out of 28 EU member states for premature death. UK men are ranked 10th.

The number of people aged 85 years has more than tripled since the 1970s, the report showed, and will include more than two million people by 2031.

The death rate for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may overtake heart disease in men as early as 2020 and is likely to become the leading cause of death in men.

The number of people with diabetes is also expected to increase by a million, according to PHE – from just under four million people in 2017 to almost five million in 2035.

In the last seven years, smoking prevalence has dropped by a quarter to 15% and as little as 10% of the population could still be smoking by 2023.

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