Mission Health

Healthy LifeThe continuing rise of lifestyle-related diseases and chronic disorders means that we need to take a fresh look at health and healthcare, and to remember that prevention is better than cure. Average life expectancy has increased steadily in England in recent decades (figure 1). Less than a century ago, deaths from infectious diseases were common 1 and often death would follow a relatively short period of illness. However, chronic non-communicable diseases are now the leading causes of death (chapter 2) and long periods of moderate and severe ill health often precede death.

Know when and how to de-stress. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Make sure that you have positive ways of dealing with stressors in your life. This might be exercising, meditating, yoga or just doing deep-breathing exercises. If stress becomes so severe that it is interfering with your sleep or ability to cope, talk to your doctor or a counselor.

Data from the Global Burden of Disease ( GBD ) model are an alternative source of trends in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy. It shows similar results to the data presented in this chapter, an increase in life expectancy with smaller absolute increases in healthy life expectancy since the earlier point of 1990.

The indicator is calculated following the Sullivan method which is widely used by experts across the world since the 1970’s. It is based on prevalence measures of the age specific proportion of population with and without disabilities and on mortality data. Its interest lies in its simplicity, the availability of its basic data and its independence of the size and age structure of the population. The health status of a population is inherently difficult to measure because it is often defined differently among individuals, populations, cultures, and even across time periods. The demographic measure of life expectancy has often been used as a measure of a nation’s health status because it is defined by a single vital characteristic of individuals and populations – death. However, the measure of life expectancy has limited utility as a gauge of a population’s health status because it does not provide an estimate of how healthy people are during their lifespan.

Working across three domains – Youth, Work and Lifestyle – the Healthy Living unit excels in identifying the illnesses related to each. Within these three domains we are developing knowledge and expertise in the fields of health, health technology, and personalized health interventions. For instance, we recently built an online youth health platform that provides youth healthcare guidelines and allows parents to find the professionals and advice they need to make the right choices. We also aim to measure and monitor individual workplace exposure to toxic substances, and to give personalized health advice to people with obesity or diabetes.