Life Expectancy – Industrialised food and its effect on our longevity.

Tables and studies on life expectancy are only as good as the data provided. There are too many variables to take into consideration. Back in Victorian times for example there were many people who lived to over 80 or even 90 but because of the high infant mortality rate this brought down the average.

However, there is no doubt that there could be the beginning of a trend inthe reduction in average life expectancy, not just for women but also for men. And not only in the UK which is the subject of this article in the press but in the US and other countries in Europe.

Those of us termed as ‘baby boomers’ are now reaching our 60s and 70s and there are factors within our lifetimes that have impacted our general health and therefore our life expectancy.

Whilst there is no doubt that in some cases medical advancements have kept pace with many diseases, there are some health issues that are silent killers. They go undetected until such time as the disease is so advanced it is too late to halt its progress. Most of these are lifestyle related. Increased obesity, cancer and dementia are the prime indicators of a population that is malnourished. This is not starvation related to food consumption but based on the nutritional content of the food we eat daily and our body relies on to be healthy.

images of food of 60s

The 60s saw the beginning of the processed food revolution that promised to cut a woman’s workload in half and make it so much easier to provide her family with inexpensive nourishing food.

I remember the first processed food that I was given as a teenager. Vesta beef curry which was a reconstituted dried concoction from several packets inside a very colourful box that depicted a place of steaming goodness. Well, anyone who ever ate a Vesta dried meal would have been very skilled to have produced anything so luscious and  they should have been done for false advertising.

Today’s industrially produced and readily available food is no different.. You might not have to add water to most of it to revive it but usually there are so many additives that it is just as unhealthy.

I do understand that a busy lifestyle with two parents working makes convenience and expense a priority, but it may well be a false economy since the cost in terms of our health is not so easily determined.  Increasingly we are putting our health into the hands of the industrialists whose aim is not the health of the nation, but their own share prices. They will be accessing the cheapest source of ingredients possible and researching colours and flavours that will give those components that fresh and healthy appearance.

The labelling has become smaller and smaller and who has time to read through a list of 30 ingredients?  That should be your first clue.  If you are going to eat convenience food then look at the labels and if you cannot recognise the majority of the ingredients then put back on the shelf.  Many of the large stores now have fresh prepared food counters that are a better choice as they will have been cooked from scratch in their own kitchens. Consider these as an option if you are pushed for time.

Various articles and reports indicate that 30 years ago the average consumption per year of refined sugar was around 10lbs. That figure is now in the region of 150lbs per year. Most of which is hidden sugar in everyday foods that we not only choose to eat ourselves but give to our children.


In the article in the Daily Mail it quotes that the fall in life expectancy is five weeks. That is for someone over 60.. A mere blip perhaps and something we can safely ignore as the beginning of a trend. Or can we?

Those of us over 60 years old had a relatively low sugar diet in our childhood and teen years but what about the life expectancy of someone in their teens and 20s today? Just how much of an impact is 150lbs of sugar a year going to make on the length of their lives?

Another shocking fact is that the life expectancy for women in the UK is one of the worst in Europe. Perhaps whilst the politicians are fighting it out for the election next month they might focus on that rather than scoring points against each other in debates.

Our bodies require a complex formula to provide the nutrients it requires to keep us healthy.  Here are those nutrients and the foods need to provide them.

You will see that in fact a shopping trolley containing plenty of colourful and green vegetables, moderate amounts of fresh colourful fruits, wholegrains such as porridge oats and rice, at least one portion of lean protein a day will provide you with the majority of these nutrients.

As always I am very happy to answer any questions either here in the comment section or you can contact me directly at sally.cronin (at)

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