Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Miles That Add Years to Your Life Expectancy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Miles That Add Years to Your Life Expectancy

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Reporter

STARK differences in life expectancy could be wiped out in a decade with the help of a pioneering simulation led by researchers at a North East university.

People living eight miles apart - a matter of minutes on the Tyne and Wear Metro - are facing 11 years difference in how long they are expected to lead healthy and active lives before they are hit by a serious disease or disability.

Now, a project at Newcastle University called Initiative on Changing Age is getting ready to form radical, targeted strategies which have the potential to save the NHS millions and reduce the staggering disparities not only in the region but across the UK.

The likelihood of a person suffering age-related, chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers can be multiplied by their environment and lifestyle.

As it stands, the region has some of the UK's most glaring health inequalities, with the life expectancy of people in Newcastle's South Gosforth, for example, almost eight years higher than for those living in Byker.

The mission of the simulation project is to halve the gap in healthy life expectancy between social classes in the North East for people aged 55 - the age regarded as 'the last chance saloon' for tackling long lasting health problems - in the next 10 years.

Health experts, academics, members of the Newcastle City Council Health and Wellbeing board, clinical commissioning groups and those from both industry and the voluntary sector will take part in an intensive two-day exercise next Friday and Saturday to draw up solutions.

The project was showcased at the British Science Festival earlier this month and will see people from the region participate.

Professor Tom Kirkwood, Director of Newcastle University's Initiative on Changing Age, said: "A short ride on public transport will carry you between areas where people have widely different expectations of healthy life. …

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