The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

whoof
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby whoof » 6 Aug 2018, 4:34pm

brynpoeth wrote:Average: mean, median mode or..?


It's not going to be modal as this would result in the average life expectancy in some populations to be zero years.

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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby mnichols » 6 Aug 2018, 9:16pm

There were generations wiped out in WWI and WWII

Those predominantly young men that served and died were from the generations being compared against

Even if those that died unnaturally (from battle) were excluded they would also have to take into account that a high percentage of men on the front were working class with lower life expectancy, particularly in WWI

My grandad and his brothers signed up for WWI not for king and country, but for food and work when none was around

Whilst we still have wars, they are not of the scale that kill millions of young men

It's difficult to know the impact of this on the stats

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horizon
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby horizon » 6 Aug 2018, 11:05pm

The reasons for life expectancy and longevity are complex and varied. It could even be argued that both world wars represented the survival of the fittest so no wonder people are generally living longer today. And you can throw in better working conditions, shorter hours, health care, leisure facilities, water, health and safety and so forth.

But the people who are living longer today are by definition in their eighties - at least that is what I presume is meant by longevity, not that more people for example are surviving to adulthood. This generation (now 80 - 90 years old) was born from 1920 onwards. FWIW, they missed out on the NHS as children but they experienced not only a more active life (as far as we know) but around ten years of food rationing at a crucial time in their development. I would like to think that we can agree that while their lives were harder than our own, they were probably healthier, at least in this regard. And in their later lives benefitted, as I mentioned above, from shorter working hours and earlier retirement.

My point is that this increase in longevity has largely been claimed as a result of developments in modern medicine. I would say (and have done so in the past, though not on this forum) that while this is an attractive idea it is less likely than ten years of enforced dieting during and after the war and that when this generation dies out, the next will revert to a shorter life span.

The fact that this is reported already to have occurred is astonishing even to me, despite my views on the matter.
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby rfryer » 7 Aug 2018, 5:51am

But the people who are living longer today are by definition in their eighties - at least that is what I presume is meant by longevity, not that more people for example are surviving to adulthood.

I think that most people's view of longevity of a population (ie "people born in 1920") is the (mean) average lifetime they achieve. If you want to use a different measure, which somehow excludes deaths at a young age, then it might be helpful if you could be explicit about what that measure is.

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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Aug 2018, 9:35am

rfryer wrote: ... I think that most people's view of longevity of a population (ie "people born in 1920") is the (mean) average lifetime they achieve. If you want to use a different measure, which somehow excludes deaths at a young age, then it might be helpful if you could be explicit about what that measure is.


Excluding infant mortality as somehow irrelevant also seems to assume it's binary when it isn't. ie It's not a random cull but an indicator of wider health issues. It might work in different ways eg more survivors who are generally weaker ie population less healthy or the same thing that stop some dying may free some of those who would have survived anyway from life-changing health problems ie population stronger. The, there's the effect on parents, especially mothers of infant mortality.

IMO, if you want to assess the effects of something like wartime food rationing, then you need to research it specifically.

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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby Vorpal » 7 Aug 2018, 10:25am

horizon wrote:My point is that this increase in longevity has largely been claimed as a result of developments in modern medicine. I would say (and have done so in the past, though not on this forum) that while this is an attractive idea it is less likely than ten years of enforced dieting during and after the war and that when this generation dies out, the next will revert to a shorter life span.

I'm not convinced. For one thing, there was evidence of malnourishment during rationing, mainly due to a lack of a balanced diet, rather than a lack of food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11029976

For another thing, the biggest increases in life expectancy at 65 years old have been among those born to post war prosperity. And this is still increasing, albeit not at the same rate as in the previous decade.

LE65.jpg
from http://www.longevitypanel.co.uk/_files/ ... gender.pdf

Since that is a little dated, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulation ... older-ages shows us that life expectancy at 65 is still increasing, though at a slower rate. So something else is affecting longevity.

Secondly, there are huge discrepancies in life expectancy in the UK by post code. A number of studies have correlated these discrepancies with variations in income deprivation. For example
in Kensington and Chelsea, a ward in the wealthiest part of London, a man can expect to live to 88 years, while a few kilometres away in Tottenham Green, one of the capital’s poorer wards, male life expectancy is 71 years.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulation ... mated-maps
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby horizon » 7 Aug 2018, 11:30am

Vorpal wrote:
Secondly, there are huge discrepancies in life expectancy in the UK by post code. A number of studies have correlated these discrepancies with variations in income deprivation. For example
in Kensington and Chelsea, a ward in the wealthiest part of London, a man can expect to live to 88 years, while a few kilometres away in Tottenham Green, one of the capital’s poorer wards, male life expectancy is 71 years.


I'm struggling a bit here with both definitions and statistics (I'm no expert on this), but AIUI this isn't to do with life expectancy but with how long people are actually living. I don't know how they extrapolate backwards or forwards but I think the report in the article was basically counting the dead and checking their ages. Basically the percentage of people (the difference in postcodes notwithstanding) reaching a certain age has flatlined.

My premise is that the increase in longevity experienced since WW2 has been hailed as the result of modern medicine and was expected to increase as science and medicine crossed new frontiers. This never made any sense to me as it suggested that those who needed to avail themselves the most of medical intervention were the ones most likely to live the longest.

Given the age group we are talking about and their experience of wartime rationing and lack of car travel, I think it fair to suggest that this may have something to do with present day longevity. That fact that the generation born after the war is failing to match their parents' ages is, if you like, proof of the pudding.
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Aug 2018, 12:38pm

horizon wrote: ... I'm struggling a bit here with both definitions and statistics (I'm no expert on this), but AIUI this isn't to do with life expectancy but with how long people are actually living. ....


I'm no expert either, but how long people are living - or at least the age at which they are dying - must have a big influence on projections of life expectancy - ie the age at which people are likely to die.

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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby brynpoeth » 7 Aug 2018, 12:57pm

Plus One for b****t*
Diet will be limited, people will become healthier. Not just for ten years :? Too late for me :(

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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby horizon » 7 Aug 2018, 12:58pm

thirdcrank: The article (as noted by someone else upthread) uses longevity and life expectancy interchangeably so I'm not sure if they have a separate meaning. I was trying to answer Vorpal's comment that life expectancy (she mentioned the over 65s) is still increasing which, according to the article, it isn't.

So, yes, it could well be that the age that people are dying now is being fed back into life expectancy figures.

The good thing BTW is that as far as I can see, doctors themselves now support the idea that exercise (q.v. cycling) and diet are more important than medical intervention. Shame that the government only pays lip service to this.

The fact that life expectancy/longevity are no longer increasing is, according to the ONS, irrefutable inasmuch as any statistics are. But I do accept that my contention that this is due to the differences in diet and exercise between the generations is of course ... contentious.
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Aug 2018, 2:28pm

horizon wrote: ... The fact that life expectancy/longevity are no longer increasing ....


I don't think that's what's being said, which I believe is that the rate of increase has dropped. It looks to me that using this as a starting point, you are dismissing - or at least minimising - the effects of improving knowledge about health as shown in public health programmes and medical interventions and then emphasising the benefits of enforced dieting through war-time and post-war food rationing and the health benefits of a lack of private motor transport.

I think that the current consensus is that obesity is increasing because of a lack of exercise and over-eating although there's disagreement about the relative importance of each. From that we know that obesity is unhealthy and so on. Your theory seems to be based on selective use of the information available.

Bear in mind that when many rates increase, if there's a finite extent to which that may occur, there will generally be a levelling off as the limit is approached when the possible gains become smaller and harder to achieve. I suspect that this is why the media have latched onto this: are we approaching the limit of the human life span? The alternative, of course, is that the pusuit of the strait and narrow has been affected by things like commercial pressure.

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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby horizon » 7 Aug 2018, 3:07pm

thirdcrank wrote:
... you are dismissing - or at least minimising - the effects of improving knowledge about health as shown in public health programmes and medical interventions and then emphasising the benefits of enforced dieting through war-time and post-war food rationing and the health benefits of a lack of private motor transport.



Yes, that is precisely what I am saying. Of course, it's pure contention but I would say just as valid as claiming that modern medicine has given us increasing longevity. In fact, I would say much more convincing (to me) than claiming that advances in medical knowledge will continue to increase longevity - the ONS indeed have already said AIUI that this isn't the case.

Having laid these particular cards on the table, I doubt I could substantiate much more so it remains simply a contention to be verified or dismissed by further evidence as it comes along.

PS I'm glad my ideas are subject only to the rigours of a forum (where amateur theorising is tolerated with kindness) but they are nevertheless genuinely held.
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby Vorpal » 7 Aug 2018, 3:08pm

The report from the Office of National Statistics, the the article in the OP was based upon, is here, and it says

In the 20 years between 1991 and 2011, life expectancy at birth for females in England and Wales grew by almost four years and for males by more than five years (see National life tables, UK: 2014 to 2016).

However, since 2011 there has been a reduction in the rate of improvement. Between 2011 to 2013 and 2014 to 2016, only 26 local authorities showed any statistically significant increase in life expectancy for men, and only 17 showed any improvement for women. This compares to 203 and 128 local authorities respectively showing a significant increase in the equivalent period 10 years earlier (see Health state life expectancies, UK: 2014 to 2016). There is debate about the reasons for the recent findings and whether they represent only a “blip” in the long-term pattern of improvement or a real change of direction (see the Why have improvements in mortality slowed down? blog by The King’s Fund, which summarises the debate).

Why the ONS is referencing a *blog*, I don't know, but this is what the blog says...

Two factors are uncontested. The first is the slowing of mortality improvements is principally the result of changes in mortality among older people. Put simply, more older people – particularly older women – than expected given historical trends are dying. The second is that flu contributed to excess deaths in some years, notably 2015 and also in 20171, although the scale of its impact is disputed. Beyond this, views about the underlying factors are hotly contested.

Several researchers cite the impact of austerity, which some claim has resulted in tens of thousands of ‘extra’ deaths.2345 Their conclusions are based on statistical analyses examining associations between mortality trends on the one hand, and external factors such as the slowing of NHS spending, cuts in social care budgets, increases in delayed discharges and reductions in benefits on the other.

However, this interpretation has been challenged, mainly on the grounds that association doesn't prove causality,678 with some arguing that because pensioners have, in fact, been better protected from spending cuts than other groups, austerity cannot be the reason for the change in the long-term trend. Alternative explanations suggested include: a ‘cohort effect’ with gains from, eg reducing smoking, largely already realised; or that older people may be succumbing to more complex and multiple long-term conditions.

Then, there is the influence of statistical artefacts – for example, trends can look different depending on the period over which they are measured9 – and, more fundamentally, the calculation of mortality rates10 is affected by changes in population size and structure and whether these have been suitably adjusted for.

With such a long list of possible explanations, what are we to believe? Understanding the reasons for recent trends in mortality among older people is largely – but not solely – the key to understanding what's happening. But disentangling the effects of the many different factors affecting older people's mortality is immensely challenging.
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby Vorpal » 7 Aug 2018, 3:11pm

For what it's worth, I think it is unreasonable on any scientific basis to dismiss the affects of immunisation against polio, rubella, mumps, measles, etc. which ensured that many thousands more children survived their childhoods compared to earlier decades.
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Re: The increase in longevity: it's finally halted

Postby horizon » 7 Aug 2018, 3:17pm

Vorpal wrote:For what it's worth, I think it is unreasonable on any scientific basis to dismiss the affects of immunisation against polio, rubella, mumps, measles, etc. which ensured that many thousands more children survived their childhoods compared to earlier decades.


1. Your quote from the King's Fund above was very helpful - thank you.
2. I can't quite get my head round this, but AIUI, childhood survival isn't relevant here: what matters is the proportion of adults (who survived childhood) who reach ever older old age. That to me is the difference between longevity and life expectancy.
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