Major health inequality report draws on CLS studies

12 February 2010

The report Fair Society, Healthy Lives, more generally known as the Marmot Review was published on 11 February as part of the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post-2010, to considerable media attention.

The report Fair Society, Healthy Lives, more generally known as the Marmot Review was published on 11 February as part of the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post-2010, to considerable media attention.

According to the report, people in England's poorest areas live an average of seven years less than those in the richest ones. Although life expectancy has risen in poor and rich areas, inequalities still persist. People in the poorest neighbourhoods will also spend a greater proportion of those shorter lives in a state of ill health.

It estimates that up to 202,000 early deaths could be avoided, if everyone in the population enjoyed the same health as university graduates. Doing nothing to tackle these inequalities would cost the economy more, according to the review, which says inequality in illness accounts for £33bn of lost productivity every year.

Epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot, of University College London, says the NHS must spend much more on preventing illness and he calls for an increase in the minimum wage to allow everyone to have a healthy lifestyle. The report says ‘action is essential’ because more than three-quarters of the population experience significant illness by the age of 68 – which will by 2046 be the pensionable age for men and women in England.

There is a call for NHS spending on preventing illness to be much higher than the current 4 per cent, with more money going to initiatives such as providing statins and helping people to stop smoking. The authors feel their most important recommendation is giving every child the best start in life: ‘Children who are nurtured, flourish’ (Sir Michael Marmot).

The full review, which draws on CLS studies, particularly the Millennium Cohort Study, is available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/gheg/marmotreview