A third of all midlife people have one of these chronic health conditions

A new study has found that one in three middle-aged people in Britain suffer from at least one chronic health issue

woman with back pain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Chronic health issues affect one-third of middle-aged British adults, a new study has found. 

About one-in-three people aged 46-48 suffer from ongoing health conditions, according to a survey conducted by the 1970 British Cohort Study. 

The study, which tracked 17,000 individuals in England, Scotland, and Wales over the course of a single week, revealed that the majority of its participants reported at least one health issue—with 34% experiencing two or more ailments. 

The most commonly reported problem was high-risk drinking, a behavior seen in 26% of people. Often referred to as binge drinking, overconsumption of alcohol is linked to a host of physical and mental health issues—including high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. While it can be hard to tell if you have a drinking problem, a warning sign to look out for is regularly exceeding the recommended alcohol limits (no more than 14 units a week). 


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Recurrent back problems were the second most commonly reported health issue, affecting 21% of those surveyed. About 10 million people battle persistent lower back pain in Scotland and England, while 8 in 10 will have at least one lower back pain attack over their lifetimes. 

Mental health problems were also heavily reported, with 19% of participants suffering from long-term psychological issues. High blood pressure was the fourth most common complaint, affecting 16% of those surveyed. Asthma, arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes were also featured in the study. 

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Dawid Gondek, was concerned by its findings, which highlighted a worrying prevalence of poor health in "relatively young" people. 

"A substantial proportion of the population are already suffering from multiple long-term physical and mental health problems in their late 40s," he told the BBC. 

"It is not a good prospect for an aging population that you can expect to live longer but many in poor health." 

While it may not be possible to completely heal these issues, there are plenty of simple ways to reduce their symptoms. Eating a nutritious diet, avoiding tobacco, and limiting your alcohol intake are all proven techniques to boost your overall health and increase your lifespan. 

Regular exercise, which is linked to lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels, is another key component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. From HIIT treadmill workouts to walking for weight loss, there's plenty of options when it comes to getting active. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.