The population-ageing phenomenon presents both an opportunity and a challenge for public health policy. At present, 18.2% of Europeans are older than 65 years and by 2050 this percentage is expected to increase to 28.1%. The World Health Organization (WHO) points out the promotion of Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) as a priority. Many causes of morbidity and disability at the end of life are the result of unhealthy lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, excess of alcohol and physical inactivity. Moreover, a persisting inequality of health both within and among countries has been observed in Europe, which reinforces the need for action on the social determinants of health, especially in the elderly. The main objective of the present work is to study how is AHA behaving in relation to Lifestyle of people aged 50 years and older of 14 European countries.
This study presents a cross-sectional, observational analysis of a representative sample of the general population aged 50 years and older in Europe. The data analyzed were obtained by the Study of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). An AHA model based on the WHO definition was used. The prevalence was stratified according to country, age groups, gender and economic status. The results were compared with healthy lifestyle factors (diet, no smoking, no alcohol excess and physical activity).
The sample consisted of 55.278 participants, with a mean age of 65.24 years (SD= 10.18; Range= 50-104), and 53.1% women. The prevalence of AHA was 38.9%. The older the people were or lower the purchasing power was, the less proportion of AHA was observed. There was no significant difference in gender. In relation to lifestyle, a positive association with physical activity, no alcohol excess and no obesity was observed in the AHA. However, smoking or being overweight did not significantly influence the fact of having or not an AHA. The two lifestyle factors most strongly associated with a lack of AHA were obesity and physical inactivity.
Facing the global challenge of ageing, significant differences are observed between countries, age groups and economic status. Likewise, there is a positive association of AHA with healthy lifestyle which enforces the importance of focusing on the social determinants of health and strengthening the capacities of countries to promote a healthy ageing.
Key words: Epidemiology; Active Healthy Ageing; Survey of Healthy Ageing and Retirement in Europe; Social Determinants of Health, life styles