Friday 07 August 2020

Accept class-related health issues and focus on prevention, says policy body

We should accept that people without post-school qualifications have worse health than those with degrees and instead focus on where the most improvements in health can be made, according to government policy advisory group WRR.

Rather than focus on closing the gap between population groups, efforts should be concentrated on where the most ‘potential health improvements’ are, the WRR said in a new report.

The Dutch in general live longer and have a healthier life than they used to, but class differences remain or have even widened, the report said. Trying to close these gaps is ‘a recipe for disappointment’, the WRR said.

For example, despite major efforts to discourage smoking, the difference in smoking rates between people with no post-school qualifications and people with college and university degrees has stretched from 4% to 10%.

Combating smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity can be done better with targeted ‘lifestyle interventions’, the WRR said, arguing for a focus on prevention. The organisation also says psychiatric illness should be given more priority.

Men in Netherlands without qualifications reach an average age of 76.8 years-old, while those with degrees top 83.

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