Life expectancy in Europe is increasing despite the obesity epidemic, with people in Britain living longer than those in the US.
An analysis of trends over the past 40 years appears to mitigate concerns that rising life expectancy in high-income countries may falter in the face of obesity-related health problems.
Epidemiologist Professor David Leon, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, concluded that in the past five years, most European countries had been going in a "positive direction" for the first time in decades - although the gap between east and west remained entrenched.
He added deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UK had seen "some of the largest and most rapid falls of any Western European country, partly due to improvements in treatment as well as reductions in smoking and other risk factors".
Meanwhile, the US was at the same level as the lowest of any Western European country (Portugal for males and Denmark for females), despite spending more per capita on health care than any other country in the world. In 2007, average life expectancy in the US was 78 years, compared with 80 in the UK.