How many years do you have left? The ‘death calculator’ has the answer

A new calculator can predict when you will die, and how much of your life will be spent in robust health.

Health experts say their algorithm can predict for the first time the impact of specific steps, with a 20-minute daily jog being enough to significantly boost healthy lifespan.

The risk assessment tool means individuals can be given a range of predictions, including how long they are likely to live.

It will also say how many years of “good health” are left, based on their lifestyle and health history, and predict the three most likely diseases to blight them.

The calculator, devised by health insurers, will also advise on the best actions which can be taken to prevent illness, increasing life expectancy, as well as years left in health.

Extra decade of life

It suggests that a major overhaul of diet and exercise could bring an extra decade of healthy living, while boosting life expectancy by as much as eight years.

International research shows Britons spend an average of 12 years living in ill-health, with the decline setting in aged 69.

While life expectancy in the UK compares well to other countries, the proportion of time spent living with disabilities, chronic conditions, and other ailments has risen by almost 15 per cent since 1990.

The calculator being launched by Vitality, a health insurance scheme, and RAND Europe research institute, asks individuals to respond to a series of questions about their daily habits, existing health conditions and medication.

The model shows that even small changes can make a significant impact.

Death Calculator

Small changes can make big difference

An unhealthy and inactive 30-year-old man could increase his “healthspan” by 18 months simply by adding 20 minutes of vigorous exercise a day, and gain an extra year by improving his diet, Vitality’s experts said.

A woman the same age with a similar lifestyle, and high blood pressure, could get a four-year boost from similar changes, including action to cut hypertension, the algorithm suggests.

The calculator will be available to the public for two weeks from Tuesday, but is likely to be restricted to members of the health scheme in future.

It comes as ministers prepare to launch a Government-backed rewards programme for families switching to healthier food and exercising.

The anti-obesity scheme due to be piloted early next year will monitor family supermarket spending, rewarding those who reduce their calorie intake and buy more fruit and vegetables. Those increasing their exercise by taking part in organised events or walking to school will also accumulate extra "points" in the new app.

Britain’s obesity crisis in numbers

The new calculator uses a database of health information, including data from health insurers covering more than three million life years, as well as international research comparing 286 causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries and 87 risk factors.

Adrian Gore, the chief executive of Global Vitality, said: “Incentivising positive lifestyle changes in a world forever changed by the global pandemic can have a profound impact on the health of individuals and reduce the burden on health services.

“For the first time, it’s possible to deliver personal recommendations on how people can extend their healthspan and their lifespan,” he said.  

Dr Katie Tryon, the company’s chief engagement officer, said: “Everyone is familiar with the concept of lifespan but not many of us are aware we have a ‘healthspan’. Improving the health of individuals and populations now requires us to help people understand the behaviours they can adopt at different ages and life stages. The earlier you start, the greater the rewards.”

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