Study shows how low socio-economic status reduces quality, length of life
More implications of recession and harsh economic conditions on the life of Nigerians have emerged as a new study has associated low socio-economic status with significant reductions in life expectancy.
The study of 1.7 million people published by The Lancet recommended that low socio-economic status, which is an implication of recession and poor earning, should be considered a major risk factor for ill-health and early death in national and global health policies.
The Lancet study, using data from the United Kingdom (UK), France, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, United States (U.S.) and Australia, is the first to compare the impact of low socio-economic status with other major risk factors on health, such as physical inactivity, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and high alcohol intake.
The researchers said although socio-economic status is one of the strongest predictors of illness and early death worldwide; it is often overlooked in health policies.
Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of their birth, their current age and other demographic factors, including sex. Simply put, life expectancy is the number of years lived in good health.
According to the World Health Statistics 2016 published in May 2016 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria is among the seven countries with the lowest scores with average of 54.5 years for both men and women.
The other countries in decreasing order are: Lesotho at 53.7 years; Cote d’Ivoire at 53.3 years; Chad 53.1 years; Central African Republic 52.5 years; Angola at 52.4 years and Sierra Leone at 50.1 years.
Lead author and researcher at the Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland, Dr. Silvia Stringhini, said: “Given the huge impact of socio-economic status on health, it’s vital that governments accept it as a major risk factor and stop excluding it from health policy.
In the study, researchers compared socio-economic status against six of the main risk factors defined by the WHO in its global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. The plan aims to reduce non-communicable diseases by 25 per cent by 2025, but omits socio-economic status as a risk factor for these diseases.
The study included data from 48 studies comprising more than 1.7 million people. It used a person’s job title to estimate their socioeconomic status and looked at whether they died early.
When compared with their wealthier counterparts, people with low socio-economic status were almost 1.5 times (46 per cent) more likely to die before they were 85 years old.
Among people with low socio-economic status, 55,600 (15.2 per cent of men and 9.4 per cent of women) died before the age of 85, compared with 25,452 (11.5 per cent of men and 6.8 per cent of women) of people with high socio-economic status.
The study also estimated that that 41 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women had low socio-economic status and that this was associated with reduced life expectancy of 2.1 years, similar to being inactive (2.4 years). The greatest reductions were for smoking and diabetes (4.8 and 3.9 years, respectively). Comparatively, high blood pressure, obesity and high alcohol consumption were associated with smaller reduction in life expectancy (1.6, 0.7 and 0.5 years, respectively) than low socio-economic status.