Two new Office for National Statistics (ONS) surveys paint a gloomy picture of life in Britain today. According to the latest surveys of public opinion and our quality of life, we’re all less satisfied than we were in 2020, less happy, less likely to think life is worthwhile and more concerned about our overall health.
A leading health testing expert has been examining the latest data. He says that some of our dissatisfaction with life is about things that are out of our hands, but there are steps we can take to help other problems.
Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘These latest Government figures don’t paint a rosy picture of life in Britain today. If you are feeling less healthy and wealthy than you did in 2020, you’re not alone.
‘The UK’s first quality of life survey, measuring the period from 20 to 30 March 2020, asked people to rank various measures of personal wellbeing on a scale of 1 to 10. Compared with the latest figures (25 January to 5 February this year), our satisfaction with life has fallen from 7.2 to 6.8. Feeling that our lives are worthwhile has also fallen from 7.4 to 7.2.
‘Continuing this downward trend, the survey of 28-31 May 2020 measured our happiness level at 7.4 but this has tumbled to 6.9 today.
‘Various problems are preying on our minds. Uppermost is the cost of living, which 92% think is one of the most important issues facing us today. The state of the NHS comes second at 87% and the economy third at 77%, while heating our homes and loneliness are also worries. 51% of us are concerned about energy bills as the winter drags on, and 27% of us feel lonely sometimes. Particularly concerning is the fact 7% of people say they feel almost permanently lonely.
‘The one bright spark is that we are less anxious than we were in 2020, when the pandemic introduced lockdowns and significantly changed our way of life. Back then, when asked how anxious people felt, on a scale of 0-10 the average was 5.2, today that’s down to 4.
‘If you are thinking that it’s all the Government’s fault, so do most Brits. In January 2023, 68.3% of adults agreed or strongly agreed that they do not have any say in what the Government does and just 23.3% said they trust it.
‘Health is a major ongoing issue. As well as concerns about the NHS, the latest available figures show less than half of adults in the UK (only 44.7%) are mostly or completely satisfied with their health.
‘It may seem hard to find immediate solutions to our politics and happiness levels, but we can do a lot to maintain good health and improve our personal sense of wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
‘Almost two-thirds of Brits are overweight or obese and there are close to one million people with undiagnosed diabetes. Obesity costs the NHS an estimated £6.1bn a year to treat. It’s a major cause of diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, painful joints and other health problems. Diabetes costs the NHS over £1.5m an hour and the total cost of treating diabetes and its related complications is £14bn a year – 10% of the NHS budget.
‘Additionally, our research has shown that about 1 in 20 of us has some kind of thyroid disorder, which may be temporary or permanent. The average global incidence of thyroid problems in the population is only around 3%, indicating that the UK has a significantly bigger issue.
‘Simple, accessible and inexpensive home tests could tell people if they are currently or in danger of being affected by either of these manageable conditions – both for diabetes and thyroid. These blood tests are widely available. Losing weight improves our health and sense of wellbeing, and takes pressure off the NHS, second on our list of major issues facing the UK.
‘A general health test is certainly a useful course of action for anyone who wants to ensure they are in good health to fight infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of needing access to health services this winter. Knowing we’ve a clean bill of health is also likely to boost our happiness levels.
‘London Medical Laboratory’s General Health Profile at-home blood test, for example, provides people with a comprehensive check-up of their general health, including diabetes (HbA1c), gout, liver & kidney function, bone health, iron levels and a full cholesterol profile. Other more comprehensive tests such as the very popular Well Woman and Well Man tests, check your vitamin D levels, which are often low at this time of year, and any potential thyroid or hormonal imbalances.
‘Many tests can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 95 selected pharmacies and health stores. If done in-store, a full blood test can be added that can indicate a wide range of issues such as anaemia and leukaemia.’