UK straggling in European Health League

Brits are enjoying longer lives and enjoying better health, but preventable causes of death like smoking, unhealthy diets and alcohol consumption continue to blight the lives of millions.

This is the finding of a damning report from The Lancet - the world's leading medical journal - which has Britain lagging behind progress made by 14 of the other original members of the European Union, including Australia, Canada, Norway and the United States over the last 20 years.

The report shared some optimism for Brits, claiming that life expectancy has risen by 4.2 years to reach 68.6 years-old in the UK from 1990 up to 2010. However, ill health has the UK straggling behind the other nations, leaving health experts to call for an increase in strategies for tackling preventable problems like heart disease and stroke.

According to bbc.co.uk, the report said the biggest factors fuelling illness and disease was tobacco (12 per cent), high blood pressure and high body-mass (nine per cent). Other risk factors included physical inactivity, alcohol and poor diet on five per cent, all of which could be improved by light treatment such as counselling courses.

Researchers reported no rise in the rate of premature deaths among Brits aged between 20-54, but found that specific causes of death like drug and alcohol use disorders have risen dramatically.

Christopher Murray, lead author of the report, describes the readings as "incredibly surprising" given the free healthcare and widespread health campaigns.

He told washingtonpost.com: "We all think of the UK as having a great health system and as one of the most sophisticated medical research communities in the world.

"Nobody would have really expected that the UK would be toward the bottom."