Women in Britain die earlier than women living in most other European countries, according to Public Health England (PHE).
It found that the average lifespan of a woman in Britain is 83 years old. Sixteen countries out of 28 have higher life expectancies. British women spend an average of over 19 years living in poor health.
The Guardian website chose to illustrate this story with images of overweight women smoking and drinking wine. The implication was that lifestyle choices are to blame for early deaths.
Of course lifestyle affects health. But the much bigger factor is class.
Those at the top of society don’t face the same stresses and strains that ordinary people do.
Many workers work long hours, some in dangerous conditions. Too many people live in substandard housing. Lots of people are so time-poor that they rely on less healthy convenience foods and have no time for exercise.
It’s much easier to be healthier if you are rich. But even unhealthy rich people will live longer than poorer people.
As PHE’s John Newton explained, “People in wealthier parts of the country enjoy
19 more years of good health than in poorer parts of the country. Men there live nine years longer, and women seven years longer.”
We shouldn’t blame poor people for ill health. We should blame the system that stops most people having a good standard of living.