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).

Healthy Lifestyle Helps to Increase Life Expectancy and Delay Disability

Average age of disability for individuals with and without behavioral risk factors.

Average age of disability for individuals with and without behavioral risk factors.

A healthy lifestyle is associated with improved health outcomes later in life. Research has found that those who have not smoked, not been obese, and drank alcohol in moderation had longer life expectancy and delayed the onset of disability.  Nearly 80% of Americans have reached their fifties having smoked, been obese, or both.  Researchers studied those who were ages 50 or older who never had any of these risk factors. They found that these individuals had a favorable behavioral profile, meaning they were more inclined to have positive health outcomes.  These individuals had a life expectancy at age 50 that was 7 years longer than those with these risk factors.  Additionally, these individuals delayed the onset of disability by up to 6 years.  In other words, having a favorable behavioral profile and establishing a healthy lifestyle when they were younger helped to increase life expectancy and delay the onset of disability.  These findings illustrate the damaging effects that behavioral risks have on health at older ages.

This study emphasizes the importance of establishing healthy behaviors early in your life, however, it is never too late to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.  A separate research study found that adopting 5 healthy lifestyle habits midlife (age 50) can add up to 10 years to your life expectancy.  Additionally, they note that each single lifestyle change adopted will help an individual live longer and better.  The five healthy lifestyle habits they note are not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, adopting a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight (BMI <25), and engaging in regular exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Coupled together, these findings demonstrate the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle for increasing life expectancy and delaying disability onset.  It is important to note that it is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle and that even at age 50, adopting a healthy lifestyle can help add 10 years onto your life expectancy.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing support for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and increasing life expectancy.

By Matt Lewandowski

 

Sources:  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). Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

Adopting Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors can Increase Life Expectancy

Healthy lifestyle behaviors have been found to increase the life expectancy of those who adopt them.  Specifically, adopting the following five behaviors mid-life (age 50) can potentially add up to 10 years onto your life:  healthy diet, maintaining healthy weight, do not smoke, drinking alcohol in moderation, and regular exercise.  Researchers found that each single lifestyle behavior adopted will help the individual live longer and better.

Life expectancy of males/females with zero healthy lifestyle factors compared to those with all five healthy lifestyle factors.

Life expectancy of males/females with zero healthy lifestyle factors compared to those with all five healthy lifestyle factors.

A healthy diet, one of the lifestyle behaviors, can be defined as one that is high quality.  Specifically, individuals are encouraged to reduce added sugar, refined grains, and highly processed foods.  A healthy diet also includes increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables. Researchers emphasized the lifestyle behavior of maintaining a healthy weight, specifically a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.  They explain that a healthy diet and regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight. Adopting the lifestyle behavior of not smoking can have several health benefits for the individual including reduced risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, improved lung function, and reduced risk of lung, mouth, and throat cancers.  Researchers encourage individuals to drink alcohol in moderation, which is defined as 2 glasses of wine per day for males and 1 glass of wine per day for females.  A healthy lifestyle behavior of exercising regularly in encouraged.  This includes at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which might include walking, jogging, biking, or other exercise activities.

Researchers have identified these five healthy lifestyle behaviors as important for living a longer and better life.  Specifically, adopting these five behaviors during mid-life (age 50) can potentially add up to 10 years onto your life expectancy.  Each single behavior adopted will have positive effects on an individual’s health and can help add years onto their life.  Additionally, it is never too late to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Adopting these behaviors mid-life was found to increase life expectancy.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing education on these various behaviors and how they can be incorporated into an individual’s life.  We can assist by collaborating to identify health goals and by providing continued support for your health.

By Matt Lewandowski

 

Sources: Li et al. (2018). Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population. Circulation, 137(23); Gardner, C., Trepanowski, J., & Del GobboL., et al. (2018). Effects of Low-Fat vs. Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association with Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion. JAMA, 319(7), 667-679; Fact Sheet About Healthy Benefits of Smoking Cessation. World Healthy Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/tobacco/quitting/benefits/en/; Start Active, Stay Active. UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines 2011