Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy at age 30 years in the Chinese population: an observational study

Summary

Background

The improvement of life expectancy is one of the aims of the Healthy China 2030 blueprint. We aimed to investigate the extent to which healthy lifestyles are associated with life expectancy in Chinese adults.

Methods

We used the prospective China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) study to examine the relative risk of mortality associated with individual and combined lifestyle factors (never smoking or quitting not for illness, no excessive alcohol use, being physically active, healthy eating habits, and healthy body shape). Participants with coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, or missing values for body-mass index were excluded. For analysis of chronic respiratory diseases, participants with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma were excluded. We estimated the national prevalence of lifestyle factors using data from the China Nutrition and Health Surveillance (CNHS; 2015) and derived mortality rates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (2015). All three data sources were combined to estimate the life expectancy of individuals at age 30 years following different levels of lifestyle factors by using the life table method. The cause-specific decomposition of the life expectancy differences was analysed using Arriaga’s method.

Findings

After the exclusion of CKB participants with coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, or missing BMI data at baseline, 487 209 were included in the primary analysis. Participants with COPD or asthma at baseline were additionally excluded for chronic respiratory disease-related analysis, leaving 451 233 participants with data available for analysis. Data from 171 127 adults aged 30–84 years from the CNHS 2015 were used to estimate the sex-specific and age-specific prevalence of lifestyle-related factors. There were 42 496 deaths documented over a median follow-up of 11·1 years (IQR 10·2–12·1) in CKB. The adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) of participants adopting five versus 0–1 low-risk factors was 0·38 (95% CI 0·34–0·43) for all-cause mortality, aHR 0·37 (0·30–0·46) for cardiovascular disease mortality, aHR 0·47 (0·39–0·56) for cancer mortality, and aHR 0·30 (0·14–0·64) for chronic respiratory disease mortality. The life expectancy at age 30 years for individuals with 0–1 low-risk factors was on average 41·7 years (95% CI 41·5–42·0) for men and 47·3 years (46·6–48·0) for women. For individuals with all five low-risk factors, the life expectancy at age 30 was 50·5 years (95% CI 48·5–52·4) for men and 55·4 years (53·5–57·4) for women; meaning a difference of 8·8 years (95% CI 6·8–10·7) for men and 8·1 years (6·5–9·9) for women. The estimated extended life expectancy for men and women was mainly attributable to reduced death from cardiovascular disease (2·4 years [27% of the total extended life expectancy] for men and 3·7 years [46%] for women), cancer (2·6 years [30%] for men and 0·9 years [11%] for women), and chronic respiratory disease (0·6 years [7%] for men and 1·2 years [15%] for women).

Interpretation

Our findings suggest that increasing the adoption of these five healthy lifestyle factors through public health interventions could be associated with substantial gains in life expectancy in the Chinese population.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Key Research and Development Program of China, Kadoorie Charitable Foundation, UK Wellcome Trust.

Introduction

Traditional lifestyle-related risk factors, including smoking, excess drinking, physical inactivity, poor dietary habits, and obesity, have been associated with increased risk of death, especially from chronic diseases.

Adherence to a healthy lifestyle and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in Chinese adults: a 10-year prospective study of 0·5 million people.