Study Reveals Lowest Life Expectancy in a Decade

The UK has witnessed a decade-low in life expectancy, prompting concerns and calls for a comprehensive government strategy to address the root causes and improve the nation’s health outlook. Here’s the full story.

How Low Can You Go?

The UK recently received yet more bad news, unveiled in data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), where the numbers show that life expectancy in the UK has plummeted to its lowest point in the last ten years. The reduction in life expectancy is concerning to both women and men, as it has affected both the genders registered by the ONS.

The downturn is attributed mainly to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as well as the UK’s lethargic response to the outbreak.

For boys unlucky enough to be born between 2020 and 2022, life expectancy has dwindled to 78.6 years – a deeply depressing decrease of 38 weeks compared to the period of 2017 to 2019.

Unfortunately for the fairer sex, girls born in the same period are also facing a disheartening decrease in life expectancy, with their life expectancy dropping to 82.6 years, marking a decline of 23 weeks in comparison to the previous measure.

Nothing Good From the Emo Era

In order to find years with similar results for life expectancy in the UK, we’d need to turn the clock back over ten years. The drop in life expectancy has taken the UK back to levels last seen between 2010 and 2012, when most millennials cared more about their emo hairstyles, tight jeans and checkered Vans, rather than worrying that the generation following in their footsteps would be living less time than they could expect too.

During this period, boys could anticipate living for 78.7 years, while girls had an average life expectancy of 82.57 years. This regression underscores the severe impact the pandemic has had on the health of the nation. 

Remember masks, sourdough bread and Zoom calls with friends and family? Unfortunately, according to the ONS, the coronavirus pandemic has left us not only with tragic memories of families split apart, loved ones lost, and incessant attempts to make lockdown fun, but also with a significant decline in life expectancy.

Unsurprisingly, during the pandemic, excess deaths surged, leading to a greatly increased mortality rate during the years 2020 and 2021.  Pamela Cobb of the ONS emphasized the dilemma faced by UK residents, stating, “After a decade of slowing life expectancy improvements, we’ve now seen life expectancy fall for both men and women.”

Give It to Me Straight, Doc

Veena Raleigh, a senior fellow at The King’s Fund, expressed deep concern over the revealed data, highlighting the devastating and ongoing influence the pandemic has had on life expectancy in the UK. Raleigh noted, “Although life expectancy has recovered somewhat since the sharp fall in 2020 when the pandemic struck, it’s not had the bounce-back that might have been expected once the worst of the pandemic was over, pointing to deeper problems with the health of the nation and the resilience of the health care system.”

Raleigh does not find the UK in a good position internationally. She revealed that excess mortality in the UK during the pandemic surpassed that of many comparable Western European and other high-income countries.

The UK’s devastatingly high mortality rate during the pandemic, combined with the UK’s persistent and somewhat predictable stagnation in life expectancy, further diminishes the nation’s standing relative to comparable countries by the year 2022.

A Long Road Ahead

Raleigh emphasizes that all is not lost, though a lot of work is needed in order to remedy the problem. She points out the need for a comprehensive, cross-government strategy to address the root causes of the decline in life expectancy.

Raleigh also noted that a significant number of deaths in the UK are due to preventable illnesses, so she advocates for strategies that support healthy choices, early identification and treatment of illnesses, and a reduction in health inequalities, particularly in deprived communities, whose health outcomes are often significantly worse than those of the less disadvantaged.

As the UK grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic, the revelation of a decade-low in life expectancy underscores the need for a proactive approach in order to pull the UK out of the somewhat self-inflicted rut it finds itself in.

Ensuring that the healthcare system is resilient and able to stand up to unexpected shocks, as well as making significant efforts to undermine the differences all too often noted between the haves and the have-nots, will ensure that the nation’s dwindling life expectancy can be put back on track.

This most recent ONS data serves as a stark and shocking reminder of the serious challenges ahead and the need for government and civil society to tackle these issues head-on. 

The post Study Reveals Lowest Life Expectancy in a Decade first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff.

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