Despite fears over the impact of obesity, life expectancy within the UK, along with the rest of Europe, is on the rise according to analysis published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
NB see 2019 update Inequality is a public health risk
Typically, life expectancy in the UK is greater than in America. While for men this has been the case for decades now, for women the gap has only started to increase over the past 15 years.
A baby boy born in Britain in 1970 could expect to live to 68.75 years, whilst a boy born in American in the same year could expect to live to 67.02 years – a difference of 1.73 years. By 2007 a British baby boy could expect to live to 77.70 and an American boy to 75.64, a difference of 2.06 years.
A British baby girl born in Britain in 2007 could expect to live to 81.93 years and an American girl till 80.78 years, a difference of 1.15 years.
Professor David Leon, a population health expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, conducted analysis into the different life expectancies across Europe, USA and Japan. Life expectancy in Britain is higher than in America despite the fact that we spend far less per capita each year on healthcare.
Despite concerns that health problems arising from obesity would affect life expectancy, at present there is no evidence to suggest this. Professor Leon however explains that deaths from cardiovascular diseases in the UK have seen some of the largest and most rapid falls of any Western European country, partly due to improvements in cardiac screening as well as reductions in smoking, and other risk factors. However he admits that it may be too soon to see the impact of increasing obesity rates.