KentuckyFC writes: Europeans are living longer. But since 2003, they’ve suddenly enjoyed fewer years of healthy life. For example, in Italy between 1995 and 2003, life expectancy increased from 75 to 80.1 for men and from 81.8 to 85.3 for women. At the same time, the number of years of healthy life increased from 66.7 to 70.9 for men and from 70 to 74.4 for women. But since 2003, while life expectancy has increased further, the number of years of healthy living has plummeted to about 62 for both sexes. More worrying still is that demographers say the same trend has been repeated right across Europe. Only the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands appear to have escaped. That raises an obvious question: what happened in 2003? One idea is that the weather is to blame. In 2003, Europe experienced an extreme heat wave that led to some 80,000 extra deaths across the region. And the higher temperatures could also have triggered ill health, particularly in older people suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes. That has important implications for governments who have to pay for health costs in Europe. And it raises the possibility that climate change is already having a bigger impact on human health than anyone imagined.
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