Versus Arthritis Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis
University of Nottingham

People in England 'set to live longer with ill health in future'

Published by Arthritis Research UK | 18 July 2017

The number of people in England living for many years with problems such as arthritis and back pain is likely to increase in the coming years.

This is according to a new report from Public Health England, which has called for action to be taken to make sure that people are not having the later years of their extended lifespans marred by ill health.

Life expectancy rise outstripping people's ability to live healthily

The Health Profile for England report has been compiled by Public Health England using a wide range of population health data, which has been analysed to give an overall picture of the long-term wellbeing of people across the country.

It revealed that people are now living longer than ever, with life expectancy in England having reached 79.5 years for males and 83.1 years for females. However, this is not a wholly positive trend, as many of these years are characterised by chronic health problems.

Boys born between 2013 and 2015 have an average healthy life expectancy of just 63.4 years, meaning they will spend another 16.1 years in poor health, while girls are only expected to remain healthy for 64.1 years, meaning they could be ill for nearly two decades.

The two biggest risk factors for ill health were highlighted as excess weight and high blood sugar, while lower back and neck pain were cited as the biggest causes of ill health.

Taking action for longer, healthier lives

The report called for a number of steps to address this problem, including an increased focus on people getting the right amount of exercise and losing weight, as well as better health education for those from poorer backgrounds.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: "The more we consider the impact of all policies on population health, the sooner we can focus on preventing poor health instead of only dealing with its consequences, especially for those from the most deprived communities."

Arthritis Research UK's view

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Neck and back pain may not kill, but it is negatively impacting the quality of life of millions of people across the UK. Too often, it's dismissed by society as 'aches and pains', but neck and back pain can have a devastating impact on everyday life, making tasks such as working, getting dressing independently, playing with your grandchildren and even getting out of a chair difficult.

"The problem is going to get worse as the number of people with arthritis and back pain will continue to grow in line with increasing life expectancy. At Arthritis Research UK, we will continue to work to support people who are living with this pain today, find ways to prevent it and, one day, find a cure."

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Posted on Thursday 20th July 2017