The gap between the life expectancy of the richest and poorest sectors of society in England is increasing according to research out this week.
The research by Imperial College London and published in the journal Lancet Public Health, also reveals that the life expectancy of England’s poorest women has fallen since 2011, in what researchers say is a “deeply worrying” trend.
The results revealed the life expectancy gap between the most affluent and most deprived sectors of society increased from 6.1 years in 2001 to 7.9 years in 2016 for women, and from 9.0 to 9.7 years in men.
The life expectancy of women in the most deprived communities in 2016 was 78.8 years, compared to 86.7 years in the most affluent group. For men, the life expectancy was 74.0 years among the poorest, compared to 83.8 years among the richest.
The results also revealed that the life expectancy of women in the poorest sectors of society has dropped by 0.24 years since 2011.
The research team also analysed the illnesses that contributed to the widening life expectancy gap.
Although they found that people in the poorest sectors died at a higher rate from all illnesses, a number of diseases showed a particularly stark difference between rich and poor.
The diseases that led to particularly large loss of longevity in the poor compared to the rich were newborn deaths and children’s diseases, respiratory diseases, heart disease, lung and digestive cancers, and dementias.
In 2016, children under five years old from the poorest sectors of society were 2.5 times as likely to die as children from affluent families.
“This study suggests the poor in England are dying from diseases that can be prevented and treated,” said Professor Ezzati,the study author
“Greater investment in health and social care in the most deprived areas will help reverse the worrying trends seen in our work. We also need government and industry action to eradicate food insecurity and make healthy food choices more affordable, so that the quality of a family’s diet isn’t dictated by their income.”