LONDON, Feb 1:
People with low socioeconomic status may have a reduced life expectancy of 2.1 years, worse than obesity or high alcohol consumption, a new study published in The Lancet journal has warned.
Scientists found that poverty and poor education are linked to ill health and early death, and should be considered risk factors for these outcomes.
The research by Imperial College London showed that low socioeconomic status (SES) had almost the same impact on health than smoking or a sedentary lifestyle, and was associated with reduced life expectancy of 2.1 years, similar to being inactive (2.4 years).
SES is a measure of an individual or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education and occupation.
However, although these factors are already known to affect health, no studies so far have compared the impact of low SES with other major risk factors on health.
Health policies often don’t consider risk factors such as poverty and poor education when predicting health outcomes.
Professor Paolo Vineis from Imperial College London and colleagues studied 1.7 million people in the UK, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, US and Australia.
They used people’s job titles to estimate their SES and looked at whether they died early (before age 85.)
They then compared SES against the main risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol) as defined by the World Health Organisation in its Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
The plan aims to reduce non-communicable diseases by 25 per cent by 2025, but omits SES as a risk factor for these diseases. (PTI)