Study finds one-third of British people in their late 40s suffer from a chronic health problem.

The 1970’s British Cohort Study (BCS70) has tracked the lives of over 17000 people for more than fifty years.

Between 2016-2018 researchers from University College London surveyed 8000 of the cohort on current health conditions, measuring blood pressure and diabetes testing.

The findings published in BMC Public Health found thirty-four per cent of people had two or more chronic health problems at the ages of 46-48.

The most common health problems reported were: 26% high-risk drinking, 21% recurring back problems, 19% mental-health problems and 16% high blood pressure. Other conditions included; arthritis, type-2 diabetes, asthma and bronchitis.

Generation X adults born in the 1970s into poor families had a greater risk of multiple health problems in their late forties. The study also found links between physical and mental health problems in the early and teenage years and chronic health problems in middle age.

 “This study provides concerning new evidence about the state of the nation’s health in midlife. It shows that a substantial proportion of the population are already suffering from multiple long-term physical and mental health problems in their late 40s, and also points to stark health inequalities which appear to begin early in childhood”, said lead author Dr Dawid Gondek from the UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in a news release.


Gondek, D., Bann, D., Brown, M. et al. Prevalence and early-life determinants of mid-life multimorbidity: evidence from the 1970 British birth cohort. BMC Public Health 21, 1319 (2021).

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