A new research at Imperial College London has found an increase in the life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest communities of society in England.
According to the researchers, life expectancy of women belonging to England’s poorest sector has also fallen since past 7 years which is a ‘deeply worrying’ trend. The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, which recorded 7.65 million deaths in total in England during the period 2001-2016.
Findings of the new study were detailed in the journal Lancet Public Health, which revealed that the gap between life expectancy of most affluent and most deprived communities surged from 6.1 to 7.9 years between 2001 and 2016 for women, and from 9.0 to 9.7 years in men.
The life expectancy of women in the poorest communities in 2016 was 78.8 years while it was 86.7 years among the richest. In case of men, the most deprived had a life expectancy of 74.0 years, compared to 83.8 years in the most affluent communities. The study also reveals that women’s life expectancy among the poorest sectors has declined by 0.24 years since 2011.
Falling life expectancy in the most deprived sectors is a deeply worrying factor that indicates the state of the nation’s health condition, leaving the most vulnerable out of the collective benefits, according to senior author Majid Ezzati, a professor from Imperial’s School of Public Health.
He said that there are numerous factors that impact on health, leading to earlier death of poor people. Many working families are forced to use food-banks due to stagnant income and cut down of benefits. Further, increase in price of healthy foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits as compared to unhealthy and processed foods are keeping them out of reach of the poorest population.
Decreasing funding for health and cuts to local government services since 2010 had a notable impact on the poorest sectors, leading to late diagnosis of disease like cancer and patients dying sooner from conditions such as dementia.
The researchers also evaluated the illness that influenced an increase in life expectancy gap. Although it was found that population in most deprived sectors died of all kinds of illnesses, few disease showed a specific difference between rich and poor. Diseases such as heart disease, respiratory diseases, newborn deaths, other pediatric diseases, dementias, and lung and digestive cancers led to more loss of longevity in poor than rich, the researchers reported.
The research team point out that the deaths among poor population in England are due to diseases that can be prevented or treated. They believe that such worrying trends can be reversed by increasing investment in health and social care for the most deprived areas. It is also necessary for the government to eradicate food insecurities while making healthy food choices more affordable.