Analysis: People are healthier and their life expectancy will continue to increase
THE main reason for the increase in the numbers of those aged over 100 is essentially that people are now healthier.
It is also likely that human life expectancy will continue to increase.
The projections from the National Records of Scotland are that we can anticipate a tripling in the numbers of people living past 90, and although the numbers over 100 may not be exactly the same, there will be similar increases.
It is very difficult to say how long children born in 2012 will live because we now have new factors like obesity, with children now much fatter than they were many years ago.
But at the same time, in the last ten years we have seen a decrease in the numbers of people smoking, which has an affect on life expectancy. .
There is every chance that there will be a larger proportion of centenarians in the future because of the improvements in different areas of health such as diet, a fall in cholesterol and high blood pressure and the improved treatment of cancer.
There is also the issue of the improvements we have seen since the days before we had a National Health Service, when there was quite a lot of childhood mortality and it was an achievement to survive into adulthood.
The survival rate for births of both children and mothers is much higher than it was 100 years ago, in 1912, and this is of course part of the improved health that we’re seeing.
However, these figures are about the quantity of life rather than the quality and what we do not know from this though is the extent to which people are living longer, but being infirm or in poor health.
l Professor Sarah Wild is from the University of Edinburgh’s centre for population health sciences.
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