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Life expectancy improvements in young adults 'lag behind other European nations'

By Jemma Crew, PA Health and Science Correspondent

Improvements in life expectancy in the UK, especially in the under 50s, are lagging behind other European countries, according to a report.

Analysis by the Health Foundation found that reductions in mortality rates are slowing or stalling at younger ages, while some populations are even seeing an increase.

In recent years, men and women aged 35-50 in England have experienced lower mortality improvements than in the 2000s, figures from Public Health England show.

The overall mortality rate for 45 to 49-year-olds increased by an annual average of 1.1 people per 100,000 of population between 2001 and 2016, according to the figures.

However, in European countries such as France and the Netherlands, improvements continue to be seen in the younger adult population, it said.

The report said it is due to avoidable deaths, such as accidental poisoning from drug misuse, alcohol consumption and suicide - the leading causes of death among UK adults aged 20-49.

It said the UK looks like it is following a pattern in the US, where accidents, misuse of opioids and other behaviours have led to increased mortality in young adults.

The report, Mortality and life expectancy trends in the UK: stalling progress, says: "The current UK mortality trends are very concerning.

"The slowdown is widespread among comparable high-income countries, but has been more rapid and sizeable in the UK than elsewhere.

"Furthermore, younger adults are generally continuing to see improvements in comparable European countries, in the UK this is not the case."

Overall, life expectancy improvements have stalled across the UK since 2010-11, and now lag two years behind Spain, France and Italy, Health Foundation analysis of data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found.

It is calling for the next government to set up an independent body to scrutinise policy and advise on how best to protect healthy life expectancy.