Health of middle-aged on the decline warns report
Around one in three middle-aged people in the UK have multiple long-term health issues, according to the latest findings from the long-running 1970 British Cohort Study from University College London, published last week in BMC Public Health.
Alarmingly, just over a third (34 per cent) have two or more chronic health problems between the ages of 46-48 years.
The most commonly reported problems were: high-risk drinking (26 per cent); recurrent back conditions (21 per cent); poor mental health (19 per cent) and high blood pressure (16 per cent). Arthritis, type 2 diabetes and asthma or bronchitis also featured prominently.
The researchers expressed surprise and concern that a substantial proportion of the population are already suffering from multiple long-term physical and mental health problems while only in their late 40s. "It is not a good prospect for an ageing population that you can expect to live longer but [with] many in poor health," they commented.
Adults from poorer backgrounds had almost a three-and-a-half times higher risk of suffering from mental ill health and arthritis, and about three times the risk of having poor mental health and high blood pressure in their late 40s.
Commenting on the findings, Margaret MacRury, superintendent director at Rowlands Pharmacy, said: "For so many people who are relatively young to live with chronic conditions, many of which are lifestyle-related and therefore avoidable, is a clear sign our healthcare eco-system needs to change.
"At the heart of that change must be a Government-promoted enhanced role for community pharmacies as local healthcare hubs, where people can easily access professional support and advice to live healthier lives," she continued.
"We need action now to invest in the community pharmacy network to turn back this tide of ill health."