Vitality: Calculate healthspan for first time as Brits live 12 years in ill health

Vitality is today launching a new report which shows people in the UK are spending a greater proportion of their lives in ill health.

While our lives (‘lifespan’) have been getting longer, our ‘healthspan’ – the number of years we expect to live in good health – isn’t increasing at the same rate, with people living a greater proportion of their lives in ill health than they were 30 years ago. In the UK, people are living on average 12 years in ill health – 14% longer than in 1990.

The report provides an additional resource for advisers to speak to their clients about how they can improve both length and quality of life. The new report can be found at: https://www.vitality.co.uk/about/vitality-research-institute/

As a result of the new findings, Vitality and RAND Europe have pioneered a new algorithm which can for the first time, help individuals understand their healthspan based on their age, gender, lifestyle choices and health status, and deliver personalised recommendations on changes that will have the biggest impact on the number of years they live in good health.

Dr Katie Tryon, Chief Engagement Officer at Vitality, said: “Everyone is familiar with the concept of lifespan but not many of us are aware we have a healthspan. Improving the health of individuals and populations now requires us to help people understand the behaviours they can adopt at different ages and life stages. The earlier you start, the greater the rewards.”

A 30-year-old female of average health who makes moderate changes to increase and improve exercise and diet could add three years of good health while a 30-year-old man of average health could gain 2.8 years of healthy life through moderate changes to exercise and diet. 

Additional insights for advisers from the report include:

    • People are spending a greater proportion of their lives in ill health due to an increase in chronic conditions and lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions and mental health while certain risk factors like BMI are increasing at younger ages.
    • To help increase the number of years people spend in good health, Vitality is calling for a greater focus on incentivising healthier behaviours.
    • Just 5% of healthcare spend in the UK is spent on prevention and health guidance is often uninspiring and generic which doesn’t drive behaviour change.
    • Employers could add up to £39 billion to the UK economy each year by putting greater focus on employee health and wellbeing needs to reduce productivity losses

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