This despite decades of free medical care and widespread health campaigns
LONDON (AP) — Despite six decades of free medical care and widespread health campaigns, Britons are among the unhealthiest people in Western Europe, a new study says.
International researchers analyzed the country’s rates of sickness and death from 1990 to 2010 in comparison to those of 15 other Western European countries in addition to Australia, Canada and the U.S. Experts described the U.K. results as “startling” and said Britain was failing to address underlying health risks in its population, including rising rates of high blood pressure, obesity and drug and alcohol abuse.
“It’s incredibly surprising,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, who studies health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle and is the lead author of the latest report.
“We all think of the U.K. as having a great health system and as one of the most sophisticated medical research communities in the world,” he wrote in an email. “Nobody would have really expected that the U.K. would be toward the bottom.”
Overall, the U.K. was 12th for healthy life expectancy, with most Britons expected to live 68.6 years in good health. The United States came in 17th out of 19 countries with 67.9 years. Spain topped the charts with a healthy life expectancy of 70.9, while Finland came last, with most Finns likely to live 67.3 years in good health. Australia ranked third with 70.1 years, while Canada was fifth with 69.6 years.
In terms of years of life lost to health conditions, Britain ranked just above last place for serious respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, and breast cancer. In comparison, Italy had the lowest death rates from respiratory infections while Norway was best at handling birth complications. Sweden had the lowest death rates for breast cancer.
Murray and colleagues said there was virtually no change in the rate of premature deaths among British adults aged 20 to 54 but found a spike in deaths caused by drug and alcohol abuse for that age group. Cirrhosis, or liver disease often linked to alcohol consumption, has jumped by more than 65 percent in Britain in the last two decades, prompting a recent government proposal to crack down on cheap drinks by setting minimum prices.
As in most Western nations, heart disease, stroke and cancer were the leading killers and in the U.K. there were higher death rates from those compared to other developed countries studied. The research was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and was published online Tuesday in the journal Lancet.
“In some areas like tobacco control and road safety, we have done very well,” said Edmund Jessop of the U.K. Faculty of Public Health in London, who wrote an accompanying commentary. But he said it was worrying that Britain was lagging behind many other European nations with similar income levels and socialized health care systems.
Jessop called for British officials to take “bold action” to tackle issues including alcohol consumption and obesity, “otherwise there will be serious consequences and the U.K. could remain at the bottom.”
More Related Stories
- How I ended up in a pyramid scheme
- My bipolar partner beat me
- Teenagers care more about online privacy than you think
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- Kicked out of the mall -- for an anti-cancer hat
- Why do men pretend to be women online?
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Is Pittsburgh the next Portland?
- Tornado survivor to Wolf Blitzer: Sorry, I'm an atheist. I don't have to thank the Lord
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
- I'm not achieving my dreams!
- The most popular Tumblr porn
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Snapchat is secretly storing your photos
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Facebook's hate speech problem
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11