In 1965, four percent of the U.S. population was diagnosed with a chronic disease. Today, the figure is a staggering sixty percent.
While doctors can debate the reasons behind this increase until kingdom come, one thing they can agree on is that we need to reverse this dangerous upward trend in illness.
Some researchers say they’ve developed a calculator that can help.
Researchers launched the world’s first algorithm that predicts healthspan – the number of years spent in good health – last October.
It’s called the Vitality Health Futures calculator. It was developed in collaboration between the health insurer Vitality, and the research institute RAND Europe. The calculator is designed to help people understand how their lifestyle choices impact both the length and quality of their lives.
In addition, this pioneering algorithm provides any individual with personalized recommendations for living a healthier and longer life.
Has the Potential to Double Healthspan
Here’s how it works: A unique biometric is calculated for each person based on responses to a wide range of questions, most of which relate to diet.
Others are on cardiovascular fitness, sleep, alcohol intake, smoking, medications, and whether the individual has diabetes. Values are required for age, height, weight, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and fasting glucose.
The calculator will then give figures for years left to live, healthspan, the number of years expected to be spent with illness, a breakdown of the most likely diseases that make up those years, and the changes needed to boost the time spent in good health and to lengthen life.
Those who complete the survey receive a report that also motivates them to make the necessary changes and make them habitual. This is written in a way that’s designed to resonate with each individual. If the recommended changes are made, the additional time a person can expect to live in good health until death is calculated.
Prioritize Prevention Instead of Treatment
The algorithm leverages data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the world’s largest source of risk-disease outcomes, comprising more than 200 causes of death, over 300 diseases and injuries, and 84 risk factors.
Their research reveals that since 1990 there’s been a 15 percent increase in the number of years people spend in ill health over their lifetime, rising from 8.5 to 9.8 years; an outcome, they believe, that comes from prioritizing treatment over prevention. This trend will only be reversed, the scientists believe, by empowering people to make lifestyle changes.
Vitality Chief Executive Adrian Gore explains, saying, “Over the last 30 years scientific change has driven increases in lifespan. Improving healthspan globally will focus on behavior change. [Now], for the first time, it’s possible to deliver personal recommendations on how people can extend their healthspan and their lifespan.”
Mr. Gore believes “the potential of this algorithm is profound. The difference between very healthy and unhealthy individuals is stark – in many cases, completing the recommended actions results in healthspan being doubled, while the percentage of life spent in illness is more than halved.”
The calculator is available to the public for a limited time only at: https://vitality.international/vitality-healthy-futures-calculator.html