The continuing rise of lifestyle-related diseases and chronic disorders means that we need to take a fresh look at health and healthcare, and to remember that prevention is better than cure. Since 2000 to 2002, life expectancy has increased by more years than healthy life expectancy and therefore the number of years lived in poor health has also increased slightly; in 2013 to 2015 it was 16.1 years for males and 19.0 years for females. However, the proportion of life spent in poor health has remained stable and these data do not take into account trends in the types and severity of diseases over time.
The greatest influences on people’s health and wellbeing come from outside health care. They include factors such as education, employment, housing and community. Plus, research shows chronic sleep loss may lead to weight gain and other health problems, including cancer. Healthy life expectancy has remained much lower than life expectancy and data for 2013 to 2015 from ONS indicate that it is now 63.4 years for males and 64.1 for females.
The idea that what a person eats influences their health no doubt predates any historical accounts that remain today. But, as is often the case for any scientific discipline, the first detailed accounts come from Ancient Greece. Hippocrates, one of the first physicians to claim diseases were natural and not supernatural, observed that many ailments were associated with gluttony; obese Greeks tended to die younger than slim Greeks, that was clear and written down on papyrus.
Figure 2 shows that male life expectancy increased by 3.5 years between 2000 to 2002 and 2012 to 2014, and healthy life expectancy increased by 2.8 years. Although both of these measures have shown an increase, life expectancy has increased by more years than healthy life expectancy and therefore males had an increase in the number of years spent in poor health as well as good health. The same was also true for females (figure 3), however, the proportion of life spent in poor health remained at 20% for males and 23% for females.
Being overweight or obese can lead to health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. Being underweight could also affect your health. Gerace, James E. “Smoking and Heart Disease.” Mar. 9, 2010. Too much time in front of the boob tube can take a serious toll on your health. In fact, a 2010 study found that people who watched four or more hours a day were 46% more likely to die from any cause than people who watched less than two hours a day.