A report has found that Britain has some of the worst health in Europe which is damaging growth and the NHS.
The UK is gripped by a “sickness explosion” costing the economy £15 billion a year, experts have warned.
Britons have “among the worst population health in Europe” due to high levels of obesity, excessive drinking and large health inequalities, according to a new report.
Poor health in the population, a rising number of elderly people and “ballooning demand” for care are leading to a “health emergency”, the study found.
As a result there is a high level of “premature often avoidable ill health” which is damaging the economy and the NHS.
The new report, titled A Covenant for Health, states that millions are becoming prematurely ill which is forcing many to drop out of work.
It has been estimated that this cost the economy £15 billion in 2022 to 2023 due to higher welfare costs and lower tax revenues.
The authors wrote: “It is urgent to act – the UK has among the worst population health in Europe, the highest levels of obesity, the worst excess drinking levels, very large health inequalities, and very many people become ill much earlier than they should.
“Our high level of premature, often avoidable ill health, damages lives, our society, localities and our economy. Without resolute action it will get worse.”
The new report, by former Labour minister Lord Filkin, former health minister Lord Bethall, public health experts and academics from the King’s Fund think tank, calls for an “emergency programme for better health”.
Lord Filkin, chairman of the Covenant for Health Commission, said: “We have a population health emergency – poor population health, more older people, ballooning demand, and costs on the NHS are leading to a sickness explosion. There will be 16 million people living with obesity by 2030 and 500,000 will die from smoking and poor air quality over the next five years.
“We need to keep well to be happy, to contribute and to sustain our economy and our NHS. Yet government, business, society, ourselves, we have all done far too little to prevent ill health.
Former health minister Lord Bethell added: “Our leaders should recognise the public do support measures to tackle smoking, obesity, heart disease and other chronic illnesses and address junk food, and dirty air, to support healthy communities and to engage people in their own health.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our ambition is for people to live longer, independent lives in good health, and we are committed to improving healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 and reducing the gap between areas where it is highest and lowest by 2030.
“We have introduced calorie labelling, restricted the placement of less healthy food in shops, provided the largest ever single increase in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery funding in England, and will help a million smokers across England quit by giving them a free vaping starter kit.
“Our Major Conditions Strategy will set out our plan to tackle the six major conditions most prevalent, from prevention to treatment, and will consider a range of factors including work, education and transport which are all critical to good physical and mental health.”
Source : SKY