British men are closing the life expectancy gap on women by living healthier lifestyles, a study by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization has found.
Researchers found that men born in 2030 are expected to live until they are 82.5 years old, and women until 85.3 – a gap of 2.8 years.
This is down from a gap of four years for Britons born in 2010 – men born at the start of the decade are expected to live until 78.3 and women until 82.3.
The change is thought to be a result of the growing similarity in men’s and women’s lifestyles, with men no longer fulfilling the stereotype of heavy drinking and smoking.
“I don’t believe we’re anywhere near the upper limit of life expectancy – if there even is one”- Professor Ezzati
The study’s lead researcher Professor Majid Ezzati said: “Men traditionally had unhealthier lifestyles, and so shorter life expectancy.
“They smoked and drank more, and had more road traffic accidents and homicides.
“However, as lifestyles become more similar between men and women, so does their longevity.”
The study, which analyzed long-term data on mortality to predict how life expectancy will change, is published in The Lancet and funded by the UK Medical Research Council, looked at 35 industrialized countries which had reliable data.
It also found that South Koreans could have the highest life expectancy in the world come 2030.
The team predicted a baby girl born in South Korea in 2030 will expect to live until she is 90.8 years old, and a boy 84.1.
Professor Ezzati added: “Many people used to believe that 90 years is the upper limit for life expectancy, but this research suggests we will break the 90-year-barrier.
“I don’t believe we’re anywhere near the upper limit of life expectancy – if there even is one.”
He said that good childhood nutrition and access to healthcare, coupled with low blood pressure and levels of smoking, may be part of what contributes to South Korea’s high life expectancy.
The study included high income countries such as the USA, Canada and Germany, and emerging economies such as Poland and the Czech Republic. When the 35 countries were ranked by life expectancy at 2030, Britain’s men placed 14th, with women 21st.