A leading academic from University College London (UCL) has warned that the continuous increased life expectancy that has existed up to this point is levelling off.
Sir Michael Marmot, a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL, attributes this slowdown to how we care for people with lifestyle diseases, like type 2 diabetes, and the elderly.
According to Sir Michael, chronic and degenerative diseases of civilisation are top challenges for health systems globally and the way we go about treating them may be all wrong.
In his estimatio, the rate of progress in life expectancy has been slowing year-over-year since 2010 or so, and it is now clearly stagnating.
Historically, improvements in life expectancy at birth had been around a one year increase every five years for women and every three and a half years for men.
It has now slowed to a one year increase every ten years for women and every six years for men, Sir Michael’s most recent analysis reveals.
Him and other scientists studying the phenomenon don’t know whether this translates into an increase in mortality or a failure of mortality to go down.
After recently chairing a government-commissioned review into health inequalities, Sir Michael highlighted possible reasons for why rises in life expectancy have faltered.
One of them is that social care and healthcare spending are particularly “miserly” in some subsets of the population, especially amongst the very old.
The baby boom generation is coming of age. Many already reached the retirement age of 65 and Sir Michael found that expected rises in life expectancy when people are aged 65 have slowed.
There are many more older people at very old ages with life expectancy stagnating, so problems that affect older people, like vascular diseases, degenerative diseases, osteoporosis, neuropathies etc., are going to be more numerous.
The leading causes of death among adults aged 65 and over are heart disease, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory problems and liver disease.
Sir Michael believes that there is a lot one can do to reduce risks for all of them, yet self-care has not been improving to the extent needed.
General lifestyle changes, like maintaining a balanced low reactive diet, having a good sleep hygiene, being active, not smoking and the like, may be more important than we realise to increase lifespan.

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