MORE than one in three middle-aged British adults are suffering from at least two chronic health conditions, including recurrent back problems, poor mental health, high blood pressure, diabetes and high-risk drinking, stated a long-running study on Wednesday (28).
About 34 per cent of middle-aged people in the UK have two or more serious chronic health problems, stated the British cohort study that has been tracking the lives of about 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week in 1970.
Nearly 8,000 of them were surveyed for the University College London work, published in the journal BMC Public Health. At age 46-48, in 2016-18, they were asked to report on whether they had chronic physical and mental health conditions while nurses measured their blood pressure and took a blood sample to check for diabetes.
The report also found high-risk drinking in 26 per cent, recurrent back issues in 21 per cent, mental health problems in 19 per cent while high blood pressure in 16 per cent of the people in the study. Asthma, bronchitis, arthritis and diabetes were also found to be common diseases in middle-aged Britons.
As per the study’s findings, those who grew up in poorer families were 43 per cent more likely to have multiple long-term health conditions than their peers from wealthier households. Those who had been overweight or obese as children, who had lower birth weight and who had experienced mental ill-health as teenagers were also at increased risk of poor health in midlife, stated the report.
Adults from poorer backgrounds were found to have almost three and half times higher risk of suffering from mental ill-health and arthritis. Diabetes and high blood pressure were both more common among those who were obese.
Lead researcher Dr Dawid Gondek said he was surprised and worried to see how many had health issues while “still relatively young”.
“A substantial proportion of the population is already suffering from multiple long-term physical and mental health problems in their late 40s,” Gondek said.
“It is not a good prospect for an ageing population that you can expect to live longer but many in poor health,” he said.
Researchers suggest targeted public health interventions in childhood and adolescence might improve the outcomes of future generations.
Even in later life, experts advise, a good diet, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking and taking regular exercise can make a difference.