People in the richest parts of England enjoy 19 years more of a “healthy life” than those in the poorest areas, a report has found.
The study by Public Health England (PHE) said inequalities in the health of the population still exist.
It warned that the NHS must adapt to changing health demands as common illnesses and disabilities place increasing pressure on services.
As people live longer, more are living with neck pain, back pain, skin disease and cognitive decline, according to the report.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive at PHE, said: “Inequalities in health undermine not only the health of the people but also our economy.
“As we work to develop the NHS long term plan, we must set the ambition high.
“If done right, with prevention at its centrepiece, the payoff of a healthier society and more sustainable NHS will be huge.”
Life expectancy in England has reached 79.5 years for men and 83.1 for women, according to the report.
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However women spend 19.3 years in poor health, the equivalent to around 23.2% of their lives, figures from 2014 to 2016 show.
This compares to men, who spend 16.2 years, or around 20.4% of their lives, in poor health.
Low back and neck pain and skin diseases – including dermatitis, acne and psoriasis – are the two leading causes of morbidity for men and women, according to the report. Hearing and sight loss also rank highly for both sexes.
Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, said: “There has been a significant change over time in the causes of ill health and the importance of ill health compared to causes of premature mortality.
“As people are living longer, there are many more people living with the common causes of pain and disability.
“These are things like back pain, skin conditions, sight and hearing loss and cognitive decline.
“Although these problems tend to cause less attention than things like heart disease and cancer, they are increasingly important both for the population, but also because they cause a significant burden to health and care services.
“The NHS needs to respond to these changes. In many ways it needs to respond more quickly than anytime in its history, because the speed of the change in these data, in the epidemiology is really quite remarkable.”
The report, described as the most comprehensive picture of health in England today, predicts a “smoke-free society” by 2030.
Prevalence has dropped from 19.9% to 14.9%, in the last seven years and, if this trend continues, rates will reduce to between 8.5% and 11.7% by 2023, PHE said.
The number of people with diabetes is expected to increase by one million, from just under four million in 2017 to almost five million in 2035.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are currently the leading causes of death in women, but could also overtake heart disease to become most common among men by 2020, the report suggests.