Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2012: Thoughts for Today

Using speed of ageing and “microlives” to communicate the effects of lifetime habits and environment

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8223 (Published 17 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8223

Re: Using speed of ageing and “microlives” to communicate the effects of lifetime habits and environment

The simpler the ‘public health message’, the more quickly it loses credibility on intense scrutiny.

According to the proposed concept of microlives, a hypothetical obese, red meat eating, Russian, male who smokes and drinks heavily with multiple other risk factors can theoretically lose ‘more than’ 24 hours of his life 'each' day.

The concept of microlives is quite appealing but potentially ignores complex interactions between various risk factors.

We need information presented in the way newspapers do, for example, after the chancellor’s budget speech. Newspapers work out how different demographics are better or worse off after the budget speech. Information thus presented in digestible chunks, taking into account all major risk factors, can be helpful to people with little or no scientific knowledge.

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 January 2013
Santhanam Sundar
Consultant Oncologist
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust
Nottingham NG5 1PB