Bupa says that the average Brit is at risk of cutting more than a decade off their life through unhealthy lifestyle habits.
A new study assessed lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, alcohol intake, diet and exercise as well as other factors, in 5000 adults to calculate the nation's average health age, which is the impact that lifestyles are having on Briton's life expectancy.
The results showed that on average, Brits have a health age 12 years older than if they adopted healthy habits. Worryingly, more than one in eight people are at risk of cutting their life short by 20 years or more.
Being married or in a long-term relationship has a positive impact on health age across all age groups, increasing potential life expectancy by more than four years.
Women in their 50s had some of the unhealthiest behaviours, being more inactive and overweight than women in other age groups. Men in their 50s and 60s were also more inactive and overweight than other men.
Dr Annabel Bentley of Bupa says, "We all know that bad habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol damage our health but these findings show the real impact of our habits and the number of years we're knocking off our lives unnecessarily. But it is never too late to make a change for the better. You could add years to your life by making lifestyle changes."
Private medical insurance news: 22 March 2011