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Tallini and others involved in this debate note the aspirational
aspects of the famous WHO definition of health. But given the inevitable
toll of ageing, surely any measure of health that could be used to
influence policy needs to take account of the background rate of
"achievable health". At the age of 61 I have just completed a (for me)
tough cycle road across Devon, coast to coast in two days, and do not
appear to be suffering any serious repercussions. But I have a pain in my
elbow and, when it abates, in both wrists alternately, that I never
suffered when cycling as a youngster. This does not surprise me given my
general level of physical functioning. But it does lead me to conclude
that a state of "perfect" health might be defined as a state of physical,
mental and social functioning at least as good as 90 per cent of those of
a similar age. Without adjusting for age, any measure of health is likely
to see the old as not healthy, instead of pretty healthy, given N years of
wear and tear.