Healthcare: On the Agenda - Life expectancy on rise despite obesity

In a nutshell

Life expectancy in the UK and Europe is increasing despite a growing obesity epidemic, new research has found. An analysis of trends over the past 40 years also found that people in Britain are living longer than those in the US.

Why is this important?

The findings counter concerns that the rising life expectancy trend in high income countries might come to an end in the face of health problems arising from obesity. Epidemiologist and population health expert professor David Leon, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said that in the past five years most European countries have been going in a 'positive direction' for the first time in decades.

Why the improvement?

According to Leon, death rates from cardiovascular disease in the UK have seen 'some of the largest and most rapid falls of any Western European country, partly because of improvements in treatment as well as reductions in smoking and other risk factors'.

PR strategy

The media outreach for the story was handled in-house by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Media coverage

The story was covered widely in the UK media. On 18 March, the story made the splash of the Daily Express under the headline 'Why we are all living longer'. The story also appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Daily Mail online and the Press Association wires.

77.9 - Male life expectancy in 2008

82% - Female life expectancy in 2008

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