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Still the sick man of Europe

A new study comparing health outcome developments in 19 nations from 1990 to 2010 suggests that British men die younger than they should and the UK is performing worse than many other EU states.

Despite considerable changes and investments in the British health care system over the last decade, the health of the UK population lags behind that of comparable countries. 

The report UK health performance: findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 examined the patterns of health loss in the UK and the leading preventable risks and compared the developments in mortality, causes of death and life expectancy with those in 14 other EU states, as well as Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA.

Whilst mortality in the UK decreased and life expectancy improved by 4.2 between 1990 and 2010 other nations have done better in the improvement of their citizen’s health outcomes.

Colin Penning, external affairs officer at the MHF said 'This is another reminder of how many men die too young. Our Lives Too Short campaign shows this too and now the NHS and local authorities' public health teams must finally take action that improves men's health.'

Spain and Italy do better

People in Spain and Italy live longest before being affected by disease and disability, around 70.9 and 70.2 years. Figures for the UK only show a healthy life expectancy of 68.6 years. 

According to the study, the UK seems to have done well only in the health care for men over 55. In men younger than 20 years and older than 55 years, mortality rates fell by 40% during the last decade. Worrying, however, is that for some adult age groups figures nearly have not changed at all. 

Mortality rates for men aged 30-34 have fallen by a mere 3.7% within 10 years and in all age groups younger than 55 the UK rank for mortality and premature death has worsened substantially.

Tobacco and alcohol main risk factors

The report states the leading risk factor to be tobacco, alongside increased blood pressure and a high body-mass index. The contribution of Alzheimer’s disease to death rates has increased significantly. Also alcohol is a major problem, with cirrhosis and drug use disorders being major risk factors for premature mortality.

The top causes of years of life lost are heart disease, cancers, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The UK also has the 11th largest difference between life expectancy at birth and healthy life expectancy. Most years lived with disability in the UK are due to mental and behavioural disorders and musculoskeletal disorders.

Even though the UK has provided universal free health care for six decades, overall health outcomes are still significantly below the average compared with other nations.


Page created on March 6th, 2013

Page updated on March 7th, 2013