New Metric for Predicting Life Expectancy

It can be difficult to conceptualize the impact that an unhealthy lifestyle can have on our overall health. Health-adjusted lifestyle expectancy (HALE) provides the relative life expectancy we can assume based on our current lifestyle. HALE provides the number of years a person can expect to live in good health, based on the current patterns of mortality and morbidity. This metric essentially adjusts your life expectancy based on the amount of time you have lived in less than perfect health. It factors in various demographics and healthy lifestyle factors, such as smoking, diabetes, physical activity, diet, and others. Rather than reporting how much our risk of death is increased with certain habits or behaviors, this metric provides an easier way of understanding the impact on our life expectancy.

Example of a HALE score and the information provided.

Example of a HALE score and the information provided.

Your HALE score will tell you your predicted future health years and your predicted future unhealthy years, or the time you can expect to live in poor health or disability. Additionally, it will provide your predicted life expectancy. An important factor to note is that this metric does not take into consideration genetics or other diseases/disabilities an individual may have.

This new tool is important as it provides an expected life expectancy based on your current lifestyle patterns. While initial values may be shocking, it is important to note that lifestyle adjustments can be made to increase your life expectancy and improve your health. The HALE provides how your lifestyle impacts your healthy life expectancy by providing recommendations for ways you can improve your lifestyle. For example, it will note how much time you could add onto your life expectancy by improving your exercise.

It is important to note that it is never too late! Research has shown that even adopting five healthy lifestyle habits midlife (age 50) can add up to 10 years to your life (i.e., exercising, healthy diet, healthy weight, not smoking, alcohol in moderation). Each single lifestyle change that is made will help an individual live longer and better. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing interpretation for your HALE score and providing consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, goal setting, and overall health. We can help provide support for adhering to living a healthier life. If you are interested in learning your HALE score, you can click on the link here:

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Health Status Statistics: Mortality – Healthy life expectancy (HALE). World Health Organization.; Healthy Life Expectancy Calculator, developed by the Goldenson Center at the University of Connecticut, retrieved from: https://apps.goldensoncenter.uconn.edu/HLEC/.; Mehta, M. & Myrskyla, N. (2017).  The population health benefits of a healthy lifestyle:  Life expectancy increased and onset of disability delayed.  Health Affairs, 36(8), 1495-1502; Li et al. (2018). Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population.  Circulation, 137(2).

What does my BMI mean anyway?

Body mass index, or BMI, is a common health screening tool that an be used to classify individuals into different categories based on their height and weight. To calculate, it divides your weight by height using the following formula: BMI = kg/m2. BMI is used to help identify elevated risk for various health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Higher BMI’s have been found to be associated with a higher risk of these health outcomes.

While the BMI is a beneficial screening tool, it has several caveats. First, BMI does not measure body fat or body composition. As such, individuals who have a high amount of muscle mass might have a higher BMI classifying them as overweight or even obese. Second, BMI does not account for various demographics such as age, sex, or ethnicity. Another important note about the BMI is that an individual can be categorized as obese, according to BMI standards, but still be “metabolically healthy”. In other words, individuals who meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity and adhere to a healthy lifestyle can still reap the health benefits even if they are not in the healthy BMI range.

How do I calculate my BMI? Start by finding your height on the left, then scanning to the right until you reach your approximate weight. Once you find it, scan upwards to reach your BMI and category on the top.

How do I calculate my BMI? Start by finding your height on the left, then scanning to the right until you reach your approximate weight. Once you find it, scan upwards to reach your BMI and category on the top.

For individuals looking to improve their BMI, it is never too late to begin living a healthier lifestyle. Minor changes such as eating healthier and exercising a little bit each day can make improvements on your overall health and BMI. It is recommended you start small, such as walking for 30 minutes per week or limiting your sitting time. Incorporate positive behavioral interventions like goal setting. Whatever your motivation for living a healthier life, the Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, and goal setting. We can assist in providing support for maintaining motivation and adherence to living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Measuring BMI for adults, children, and teens. Yvette Brazier, Medical News Today, November 8, 2018; Metabolically healthy obesity: All you need to know.Joseph Nordqvist, Medical News Today, April 18, 2017; BMI: What’s Your Number?HMR Weight Management Services, September 17, 2018.

Unhealthy Lifestyle and Working Night Shifts Increases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

An unhealthy lifestyle and working night shifts is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Research continues to support the overall health benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as not smoking, having a healthy weight, a healthy diet ,and exercising regularly.  Researchers found that nurses working night shifts who also had an unhealthy lifestyle were at an increased risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.  Women with both of these factors were at an even greater risk, as compared to men.  Additionally, it was found that for every 5 years of rotating night shift work, nurses had a 30% increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Adding an unhealthy lifestyle more than doubled the risk, making an individual 2.83 times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.  They explained that an unhealthy lifestyle includes smoking, getting less than 30 minutes per day of physical activity, having a poor diet, and not maintaining a healthy weight (BMI >25).   Individuals with three or more of these unhealthy lifestyle factors were at an increased risk of developing the disease.

Increase in risk of type 2 diabetes based on unhealthy lifestyle score. Higher scores indicate more unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Increase in risk of type 2 diabetes based on unhealthy lifestyle score. Higher scores indicate more unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Shift work, particularly at night, has been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and certain types of cancer.  Furthermore, shift workers have higher rates of obesity and smoking.  Research has illustrated that the more years an individual spends on rotating shift work, the more likely they are to be smokers and have a higher BMI.  These findings are particularly important as 1 in 5 US workers have non-standard working hours.  Of this group, nurses make up one third of the population.  Most cases of Type 2 Diabetes could be prevented with an adherence to a healthy lifestyle.  These benefits are even larger for those who are rotating night shift workers.  It is important that those who are at a higher risk, particularly female night shift workers, establish a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce their risk of disease such as Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and cancer.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing consultations specific to establishing a healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, we can help by providing support for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

By Matt Lewandowski

 

Sources:  Shan, Z., et al. (2018).  Rotating night shift work and adherence to unhealthy lifestyle in predicting risk of type 2 diabetes:  Results from two large US cohorts of female nurses.  BMI, 363, k4641; Night Shifts and Unhealthy Lifestyle combine to Up Risk of Diabetes. Liam Davenport, Medscape, November 23, 2018. Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash