Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A recent report issued by Public Health Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences shines a light on five risks to health—smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, physical inactivity and high stress—and their impact on life expectancy in Ontario.
The authors calculate that Ontarians could gain seven more years of life by making healthier decisions about these five risk factors. The number is even higher at 8.3 more years of life for Sudbury and area residents.
The potential life expectancy for a resident of Sudbury and districts is 89.1 years. However, the area's actual average life expectancy is 80.8 years.
The table below breaks down the burden of the five behavioural health risks on Sudbury residents.
“The data shows that we could be living an average of 8.3 years longer than we currently are,” says Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury and district’s Medical Officer of Health. “Our lifestyles are essentially robbing us of more than eight years of life and of our quality of life. But getting these years back means digging deeper. It means going further than just educating about good habits, discipline and common sense. Many factors such as income, education, social supports and community norms mean that not everyone has the same choices available to them.”
Sutcliffe adds, to get the years back, it will also take a fundamental shift in how we approach overall health as a community. Accessing, preparing and eating nutritious food costs money and time. The reality is, not every member of our community has access to the same standards of healthy living. Stress, smoking and drinking can all be interlinked and are often rooted in problems much deeper than they appear. Income is tied to education and both are linked to opportunity and choice. It’s time to start connecting the dots.
The complexity of getting these years back is highlighted by the different types of recommendations supported by international experts. Some recommendations are more straightforward while others point to the deeper roots of individual behaviour choices:
Deeply rooted tips:
“For Sudbury to be healthier, the first step is acknowledging that solving the problem lies with all of us,” reiterated Sutcliffe. “Everyone makes choices. Just telling people what to do and repeating statistics won’t change those habits. We need to work together—as leaders, as parents, as individuals to make real change and Sudbury healthier as a whole.
“We already know how and why we aren’t living long lives. The solution lies in addressing just what prevents many people from being able to make healthy choices that ultimately costs them almost a decade of life.”
Please visit the links below for more information on life expectancy, this report or how to start living a better, healthier life.
Seven more years: The impact of smoking, alcohol, diet, physical activity and stress on health and life expectancy in Ontario.
Learn about the social determinants of health and social inequities in health.