Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers*
A just published study examined the lifespan of politicians in 11 high-income democratic countries – including Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). The NZ politicians were found to live at least 5 years longer than the general NZ population (age and gender matched) and this gap has been growing since 1950. One of the likely reasons is the lower smoking rate of NZ politicians compared to the rest of the population. Perhaps it is time for NZ politicians to share the lifespan benefits of their smokefree lives – by ensuring that the current smokefree legislation before Parliament is passed in full?
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Matt Boyd, Dr Andrea Teng, Prof Tony Blakely
Everyone knows that socio-economic inequalities in health exist – in recent times. But one thing we do not know is whether they have always been there. We have just published a study that looks at two historical datasets – with one of these suggesting life span differences by occupational class as measured 100 years ago. We find strong differences in life expectancy by occupational class among men enlisted to fight in the First World War (but not actually getting to the frontline). Whilst not definitive evidence (it is hard to get perfect evidence from 100 years ago!), it does suggest that socio-economic inequalities in mortality have existed for at least 100 years in NZ. In this blog we also take the opportunity to discuss what might be done to address the current inequality problem in this country.
Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, Professor Tony Blakely
This blog was triggered by the recent highly publicised review on the cancer risk from processed meat and red meat. Here we briefly look at this topic and also take a wider perspective on other aspects of meat consumption on human health and the environment, and risk communication.
Professor Tony Blakely and Professor Alistair Woodward
In this blog we review the latest update by the Ministry of Health on how much of NZers life expectancy can be expected to be in good health. The good news? We are both living longer, and living longer in good health. The bad news? According to this report, the percentage of our lives with some dependency due to poor health is increasing. And there are marked inequalities in healthy life expectancy. This sort of analysis, as hard as it is to get right, is important – as a society we do not want to just live longer, but live longer in good health. However, we have concerns about the accuracy of this Report, and critique it in this blog.
Professor Alistair Woodward and Professor Tony Blakely
SNZ predictions of number of New Zealanders aged 65 plus
Have you sat in a meeting recently, or listened to the radio, where someone is invoking the aging population as a harbringer of doom and gloom due to the tsunami of older people with poor health? A tsunami that will overload health and social services, etc. Have you then asked yourself “Hang on a minute, if people are living longer are they not also healthier?”. Or even “Why on earth do government agencies and some academics keep talking about the number of people aged greater than 65 as a marker of some dependency on the state?”. Well, this Blog is for you. We use a paper just published in PLoS ONE that demonstrates how with falling mortality rates, population aging may actually slow due to a rapid increase in the age at which your remaining life expectancy is 15 years or less. And we draw on analyses from our own book, The Healthy Country? A History of Life and Death in New Zealand, to critique naïve assumptions about population aging. Which begs many questions, such as “Why is the age of entitlement for New Zealand superannuation still 65?” Read on.