-July 20th 2015-

Researchers in 10 countries have begun a major new project studying the link between socioeconomic status and healthy ageing. The Lifepath project, coordinated by Professor Paolo Vineis from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, involves 15 institutions in Europe, the US and Australia. It has been supported by a six million euro grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. It is mainly based on the analysis of data collected in population-based cohorts in several European countries, Gazel being one of them.

 

Many previous studies have shown that health outcomes in later life are strongly influenced by wealth and social status. Traditional risk factors such as diet and smoking account for a fraction of this link. Other factors such as psychosocial stress, working conditions and genetic influences may be important, but the mechanisms involved are not well understood. We know that it’s possible to remain healthy into old age, and this is much more likely among people with high socioeconomic status. The research consortium aims to better understand why, making healthy ageing a reality for everyone, not just the wealthiest parts of society.The consortium, which includes scientists, economists and policy experts, hope to amass evidence to inform efforts to reduce health inequality.

The four-year research programme will investigate links between socioeconomic factors, such as education, income and achievements, and age-related health outcomes, such as cancer, heart disease, cognitive impairments and frailty. It will also use molecular techniques to analyse blood samples from existing population studies to uncover biological changes associated with poverty.