Report found people from low-income households are five times more likely to have problems accessing health care.
30-year-old men with low-levels of education are expected to die, on average, eight years earlier than those with a university degree, according to a new report from the European Commission.
The 2018 Health at a Glance: Europe, joint report of the European Commission (EC) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), shows that the steady increase of life expectancy seen in recent years has slowed down and that large gaps across and within countries persist, notably leaving people with a low level of education “by the wayside.”
The report is based on comparative analyses of the health status of EU citizens and the performance of the health systems in the 28 Member States, 5 candidate countries and 3 EFTA countries.
"Many lives could be saved by increasing our efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and tackle risk factors such as tobacco or lack of physical activity,"
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety,, European Commission
According to Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, “While the life expectancy in the EU is among the highest in the world, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. Many lives could be saved by increasing our efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and tackle risk factors such as tobacco or lack of physical activity. It is unacceptable that every year in the EU we are losing more than 1.2 million people prematurely when this could be avoided through better disease prevention and more effective health care interventions.”
The report found that until recently, life expectancy was rising rapidly and steadily across EU countries. However, since 2011, the gains in life expectancy have slowed down markedly and large disparities in life expectancy persist not only by sex but also by socioeconomic status.
According to the report, low-income households are five times more likely to report unmet care needs than high-income households mainly for financial reasons.
"This report highlights the need to focus on disadvantaged communities and those most at risk of chronic disease,"
Janis Morrissey, Head of Health Promotion and Training , Irish Heart Foundation
The prevalence of obesity continues to increase among adults in most EU countries, with at least one in six defined as obese, the report found.
Obesity has increased in almost all countries since the year 2000 however it has notably increased in Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Inequality in obesity remains marked and according to the report, 20 per cent of adults with a lower education level are obese compared to 12 per cent of those with a higher education.
Commenting on the report Janis Morrissey, Head of Health Promotion and Training at the Irish Heart Foundation said, that while 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke was preventable through healthy lifestyles, this report highlights the need to focus on disadvantaged communities and those most at risk of chronic disease.
“The Irish Heart Foundation works in partnership with a range of organisations to tackle health inequalities and to work with those who need us most. For example, we run several Community Heart Projects where local communities can improve their heart health through growing healthy food, nutrition classes and promoting physical activity. We target disadvantaged communities with our Mobile Health Unit offering free blood pressure checks nationwide. Our health is affected by a number of factors including education level so, we also advocate for policies to create an environment where all sectors of society can achieve optimum health.”
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