New research from Imperial College London finds that the life expectancy gap between the richest and the poorest members of society in the UK is increasing. The “worrying” trend shows the poorest dying nearly 10 years younger than the richest.

Life Expectancy Gap

In a study funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Office for National Statistics, researchers scoured the data on all recorded deaths in England from the years 2001 to 2016. There were 7.65 million deaths in total and showed a trend wherein the poorest members of sectors of society die significantly earlier than the most affluent.

Specifically, the life expectancy gap between women of the poorest and most affluent sectors increased from 6.1 years in 2001 to 7.9 years in 2016, with the poorest women having a life expectancy of 78.8 years and the most affluent having a life expectancy of 86.7 years in 2016.

In men, the life expectancy gap increased from 9 years in 2001 to 9.7 years in 2016, with the poorest men having a life expectancy of 74 years and the most affluent having a life expectancy of 83.8 years.

Late Diagnosis

The researchers also found that the life expectancy of women in the poorest sectors dropped by 0.24 since 2011 and that children below five years old from the poorest sectors of society are 2.5 times more likely to die compared to the children from more affluent sectors.

Furthermore, they also found that those in the poorest sectors tend to have diseases diagnosed too late. According to senior author Professor Majid Ezzati, their study shows that the poorer members of society are dying from diseases and illnesses that could very well be prevented and treated.

Health And Social Investment

The authors note that there are a number of factors that contribute to this trend such as stagnated work income and increasing prices of healthy foods.

“Greater investment in health and social care in the most deprived areas will help reverse the worrying trends seen in our work,” said Professor Ezzati, also noting the need for government and industry action to make healthier food choices more available to the poorer sectors of society.

The study is published in Lancet Public Health.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.