Throughout the 20th Century, the UK experienced steady improvements in life expectancy at birth. This has been attributed to healthier habits among the population as it ages, such as reduced smoking rates and improvements in treating infectious illnesses and conditions such as heart disease. But in recent years the progress has slowed.
Increases in life expectancy in the UK have stalled and the slowdown is one of the biggest among 20 of the world's leading economies.
Rises in life expectancy dropped from 12.9 weeks per year for women from 2006 to 2011 to 1.2 weeks per year from 2011 to 2016, its report found. This increase in life expectancy for women was the lowest of the 20 nations, while for men only the US was worse. For men, this was down 76% from 17.3 to 4.2 weeks.There was also a slowdown in other countries across Europe and Australia.
As of 2016, a female baby born in the UK would on average be expected to live until 82.9, while a boy would be predicted to live until 79.2.
Sir Steve Webb, former Liberal Democrat pensions minister and director of policy at the insurance provider Royal London, said: "The UK has slumped from being one of the strongest performers when it comes to improving life expectancy to bottom of the league. There is a real human cost behind these statistics and we urgently need to understand more about why this is happening."
Prof Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he and other academics had for some time been voicing concern about the slowing rate of improvement in life expectancy. He said the data refuted one of the criticisms of their work - that the UK's slowdown was not unusual compared with other countries. Prof McKee said: "It is not possible, with these data, to draw a conclusion about the reasons why the UK is performing so poorly. Our previous research has provided some pointers, suggesting the need to look in more detail at some consequences of austerity."