During 1979, 2500 men were asked by Cardiff University researchers if they would be willing to follow five simple rules to improve their lifestyle. These were to eat well, drink less, not smoke, exercise and keep their weight down.
Now, 35 years later, it was found that only 25 stuck to this plan. However, these 25 pensioners are all healthier and fitter than those who did not continue.
The Caerphilly Cohort Study is the longest-running project of this type and assesses the influence of environmental factors on diseases, including heart disease, dementia, cancer and diabetes.
The study discovered that those who followed the five-step plan:
• Reduced their risk of cancer by 40%
• Reduced their risk of strokes and heart attacks by 60%
• Were 60% less like to suffer from dementia
• Reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 70%
The latest Welsh Health Survey indicated that less than 1% of adults in the country follow these five health tips, whilst 39% live a lifestyle which is considered to be unhealthy. Unhealthy living accounts for around 10% of the costs incurred by NHS Wales. The annual prevention and public service cost in Wales is currently £280m.
According to the head of the study, Professor Peter Elwood, the results of the research indicated that healthy living was not a total method of prevention, but the males who developed illnesses did so much later in life than those who led ‘neglectful lifestyles’. He said this study should act as a ‘wake-up call’ for people in Wales to make an effort to change their habits.
He added that the most distressing fact is that recent surveys across Wales indicate that the same proportion of males and females follow the healthy and unhealthy lifestyles that were first found in Caerphilly over 30 years ago.
The findings of this study have opened the doors to new health and lifestyle studies, including a study involving 500000 people within the UK.
Image Credit: Garry Knight