Time to get tougher on the risk factors fraying our health? – with Professor Kevin Fenton and Richard Sloggett

Episode 18,   Apr 04, 2022, 05:00 AM

For the last decade, gains in life expectancy have been stalling. We’re living more years in poor health too, with a 20 year gap in healthy life expectancy between women living in the richest and poorest areas. 

The biggest risk factors driving the UK‘s high burden of ill health are smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol use. All are socioeconomically patterned and contribute significantly to widening health inequalities. 

There have been many policies proposed to help over the years, and the government has already set a target to increase healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 and reduce inequality. But at the current rate of progress this will take nearly 200 years, not 12, to reach. 

Is it time to get much tougher on the risk factors? And if so, how? A recent Health Foundation report showed that the government could do a lot more to be effective, but will politics allow national government to do what it takes?

Our Chief Executive Dr Jennifer Dixon is joined by:

  • Professor Kevin Fenton is regional director for London at the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, having previously held the same position at Public Health England. He has also been elected to be the next President of the UK Faculty of Public Health and is due to take up the position in June 2022. 
  • Richard Sloggett is the founder and director of Future Health. Between 2018 and 2019 he was Special Advisor to the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, working on the prevention green paper. 

Show notes