The Office of National Statistics has reported that nearly a quarter of deaths in England and Wales in 2013 were potentially avoidable with improvements to lifestyle, healthcare and vaccination.
In all, 114,740 (23%) of the 506,790 deaths recorded in the two countries were either amenable to treatment or could have been prevented through public health measures, or sometimes both, according to experimental statistics published on Wednesday.
They also show, though, that successes in reducing premature deaths since the millennium slowed dramatically two years ago.
Men’s deaths accounted for 28% of the avoidable deaths, women’s for 17%. Avoidable mortality had been falling significantly each year from 2001 to 2012, driven by improvements in treating or preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
However, improvements in reducing avoidable early deaths did not continue in 2013. This is likely to provoke debate on whether advances in medical and surgical treatments, as well as continuing falls in numbers of people smoking, are being undermined by lifestyles, fuelling big increases in the number of overweight or obese people and those with type 2 diabetes.