How Long Will You Live!
We've been told "death risk" can be cut by 15 minutes exercise a day, but just how should we view life expectancy data?
"Ah yes, Mrs Goody Goody.
"Rich, non-smoker, eats her veg, watches three hours of TV daily, does 15 minutes on the treadmill, and, oh dear yes, wears a green hat.
"Despite the hat, I'm pleased to tell you that you've a 98.2% chance of not being dead until 86."
Not quite realistic, not yet. But reports this week about a link between watching TV and dying early show how researchers are slowly matching lifestyle with death rates to work out the odds on your future.
Will they, one day, produce a personalised when-might-I-die calculation? In a limited way they already have. As with a dating site, you can - sort of - match your own profile to discover when your time might be up.
from the Understanding Uncertainty website where you can enter a few of your significant behaviours - smoking, drinking, physical activity and diet - and see how they affect your chances of survival to any given age.
On the website, click on the tab labelled "behaviours". This survival curve - as it's called - shows all the people who've survived to age 45 and the steadily falling percentage who make it further. The fewer healthy boxes you tick, the steeper the curve. Try it.
Incidentally, the difference between most unhealthy behaviours identified by EPIC and the healthiest is about 14 years of life.
Next, the link between watching TV and shorter life might not be a result of sitting in front of a TV, but of inactivity generally. Although the researchers say they took exercise into account.
Then, when we are told that 15 minutes of daily exercise can lengthen life, we are not really told how hard. Quality matters as well as quantity.
But someone soon is going to work out how to put it all together - the diet and the TV and all the rest, combined with factors like height and weight - in a user-friendly way that allows people to personalise the data and see what happens to the risks if they change their behaviour.
The next question is – “who really wants to know”? says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire.