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HAVE we reached the outer limits
of life expectancy in the UK?

IT SEEMED we were just going to grow forever older, cosseted            Between 2000 and 2015, life expectancy at birth increased by
by a ready supply of good food and drink and a wave of                one year every five years for women and by one year every 3.5
medical science breakthroughs. But a new report, released a           years for men.
few weeks ago, has cast serious doubt on all that.
                                                                        But this compares to one year every 10 years for women and
  The steady rise in life expectancy has stalled in Britain for first  one for every six for men post-2010.
time in 100 years, with dementia and lifestyle diseases largely
to blame, according to the report by Sir Michael Marmot.                Sir Michael, who is director of the Institute of Health Equity at
                                                                      UCL, said this showed the growth in life expectancy was “pretty
  Since the First World War, the average age of death has been        close to having ground to a halt”.
gradually increasing each year and until recently men were
gaining an extra year every three and a half years, and women           He said: “I am deeply concerned with the levelling off, I
every five years.                                                      expected it to keep getting better.”

  But since 2010 the trend has halved with a one-year increase          And Sir Michael dismissed the notion that the slowing of life
now taking ten years for women and six years for men.                 expectancy could be related to humans reaching the outer limit
                                                                      of how long they could live.
  Sir Michael, who compiled the new report, said the downturn
was “deeply concerning” and warned that Britain could soon              He said other countries, such as Hong Kong, had longer
reach a point where life expectancy started to go backwards,          life expectancy than England and had continued to see
as has happened in the United States.                                 consistent rises.

  Using Office for National Statistics projections for babies            Last year scientists in the US concluded the absolute limit for
born since 2000, Sir Michael, who has advised both the                human life was about 115.
government and World Health Organisation, said this stall in
increased life expectancy was “historically highly unusual”. He         How important is this? Is it important at all that we continue
said it was “entirely possible” austerity was to blame and said       to push life expectancy ever-upwards?
the issue needed looking at urgently.
                                                                        Perhaps it is. But I’d suggest it is more important to strive for
  The government said its policies were not responsible with          a better quality of life — a good life — for however long we live.
the Department of Health claiming ministers were providing
the necessary support and funding to ensure life expectancy             Surely this is preferable to an aged population living longer
“continues to increase”.                                              but almost certainly frailer and with a quality of life that fails to
                                                                      match the impressive lifespan.

                                                                        As Freddie Mercury put it with Queen: “Who wants to live
                                                                      forever? Forever is our today. Who lives forever anyway?”

                                                                      Bill Bradshaw

Page 5 Contents                                                                                                    page          2
                                                                                                                   page          5
                                                         Keep on running                                           page          9
                                                         Joan Jumps at 8,000 feet                                  pages  18 - 19
                                                         How’s your bucket list?                                   pages  20 - 21
                                                         Fighting Type 2 diabetes
                                                         Start Me Up over-50s                                             3

Page 9

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The Good Life: Published by the Isle of Wight County Press Ltd, Brannon House, 123 Pyle Street, Newport. PO30 1ST

ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY PRESS The Good Life Autumn 2017
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