From the publication from Public Health England: overall population health in England has improved in recent decades. The age-standardised morbidity rate in England (rate of ill health), reduced by 2.1% between 1990 and 2016.
Older people experience higher rates of morbidity than younger people. In 2016, people aged in their 80s had almost twice the morbidity rate of people in their 60s, who had almost twice that of people in their 20s. However, age-specific morbidity rates decreased for all age groups between 1990 and 2016. The largest reductions were for those aged 70 to 89 years.
The population has been increasing and ageing (Chapter 1), so despite the population being healthier at every age group, the total burden of morbidity has increased between 1990 and 2016.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, mental and substance use disorders, and a group of other non-communicable diseases (skin diseases, oral disorders, hearing and sight loss) accounted for over 60% of the total morbidity burden in 2016. Low back and neck pain and skin diseases (mainly dermatitis, acne and psoriasis) remained the two leading specific causes, for both males and females.
Having any long-term health condition can reduce quality of life, and those with a long-term MSK condition or a long-term mental health condition had the lowest quality of life scores in financial year 2016 to 2017. In addition, mental and physical health conditions are closely linked, people with long-term MSK conditions were almost twice as likely to report feeling anxious or depressed on a given day than the general population (24.1% compared with 13.7%).
In 2014, it is estimated that 18.9% of adults aged 16 to 64 years in England had at least one common mental health disorder (CMD), which includes depression and anxiety. Since 1993, the prevalence of CMDs in England have increased.
As the population continues to age, the number of people with many chronic conditions is expected to increase. For example, the number of people with diabetes, is expected to increase in the next two decades from 3.9 million people in 2017 to 4.9 million in 2035. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes and this number will increase further if the prevalence of obesity also increases.
In 2016, obesity and smoking were the leading risk factors for morbidity. These are associated with many of the common causes of morbidity including cardiovascular disease, MSK conditions, respiratory diseases, diabetes and most cancers.
The prevalence of many risk factors among adults, including smoking, illicit drug use, high blood pressure and high cholesterol have continued to decline. The prevalence of smoking in adults has declined from 19.9% to 14.9% in the last 7 years and time series analysis suggests that, if this trend continues, it will reduce to between 8.5% and 11.7% by 2023. However, the trends in other risk factors have been less favourable; there has been a slight upward trend in obesity since 2007.
If this is of interest, we still have some spaces on our Communicating Benefits and Risks in Health Information Event on 10 Oct which has a full agenda of interesting topics.