Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China for the first time measured the average number of years lost to disability and serious illness in a new life expectancy survey, finding that Beijingers could spend one-fourth of their lives ill or debilitated.
The municipal health authority - the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - unveiled figures for the capital's "health-adjusted life expectancy" (Hale), a World Health Organisation-recommended indicator.
Hale is calculated by subtracting from life expectancy the average number of years lost to ill health, which is weighted based on the severity of the health problem. More than 6,000 adults from four districts and two counties under Beijing took part in the survey.
The CDC survey found that an 18-year-old in Beijing is expected to live 40.17 healthy years.
Broken down by gender, males of that age who are expected to live up to the age of 80.2 would live 43.40 healthy years.
Their female counterparts expected to live to the age of 84.5 would live 38.06 healthy years.
This means that even if woman's life expectancy is four years longer than men in the city, they may spend more of those years ill.
The top illnesses in the Beijing study were malignant tumours, followed by arthritis and then a raft of chronic diseases like gastritis, cerebrovascular and heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension.
"The Hale study among Beijing adults provides a hint to us that although the life expectancy of our people has reached a level on par with that of advanced countries, people's life quality is not ideal," said Deng Ying, director of the CDC.
"In our life, we have to endure 10 to 20 years of unhealthy status due to various reasons," Deng said.
Canada's figures for 2007, the most recent year for which Hale data are available, showed Canadians could expect to live in full health for 73 years in a country with an average life expectancy of 80.7 years.
According to the Ministry of Health, in 2012, there were more than 260 million patients with chronic diseases, which were responsible for 85 per cent of all deaths nationwide. Seventy per cent of medical bills were spent on chronic illnesses, it said.