WEB & TECH / JUN. 19, 2015
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This Website Can Accurately Predict Whether You’ll Die Within 5 Years

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, along comes a website that pulls the rug from under your feet. You’re probably dying to know the website’s name so here it is: the website’s name is Ubble, and you can find it here. Turns out that by using the answers to questions about your demographics, health and lifestyle, scientists believe that they can pinpoint accurately whether you’ll die within five years (especially if you’re middle-aged). Read on to learn more about this site, before you decide whether to take the test…

See Also: 6 Work-Related Stressors That Can Affect Your Health

Your Self Assessed Health Is Key to Predicting Your Death

“Measures that can simply be obtained by questionnaires and without physical examination were the strongest predictors of all-cause mortality in the UK Biobank population.” The Lancet (abstract)

According to scientists Andrea Ganna and Erik Ingelsson, writing in the highly respected medical journal The Lancet, if you are a man, your self-assessed health is a better predictor of your death in the next five years than physiological measures such as pulse rate.

If you are a woman, any diagnosis of cancer is the strongest predictor of death within five years. For those who have no serious diseases, regardless of their sex, smoking is the strongest predictor of death.  Other very important factors are exercise (particularly the amount of walking you do) and, perhaps less obviously, the number of cars you own (if you’re a man).

Ganna and Ingelsson used data from the UK Biobank population, comprising some 500,000 people, to investigate the predictors of mortality in five years - the first of its kind.

What To Expect From Ubble

Ubble is based on the findings of the study. You can work out your “Ubble age” using the website’s short, appealingly simple questionnaire. If your Ubble age is younger than your real age, you have a low risk of premature death. If it’s higher, take action on the basics – now. In other words, get walking, develop a healthier diet and stop smoking.

The questions are not exactly the same for men and women (because the study was also interested in gender-based correlations). But you’ll find questions about your smoking habits, general health, background and lifestyle and based on your answers, you’ll be given your risk of dying within five years in addition to your “Ubble age”.

The website states that you must be aged 40-70 and live in the UK for the calculator’s predictions to be accurate. When I took the test (with a sharp intake of breath, but then again I’m willing to suffer for my work), Ubble calculated my age to be 32 (much lower than my actual age) and I was given a 0.5% risk of death in the next five years. Encouraging.

If you’re concerned about your results or have any questions, the website helpfully provides a link to the NHS Choices website in addition to a link to the charity Sense about Science, which designed the website. There’s also more detailed information on the measures that were used in the study on the website.

Takeaways

Ubble is a useful addition to the current arsenal of health and wellbeing resources. It’s helpful to have a means of ‘scoring’ our health without having to drag ourselves to the doctor. Now and then we need a kick –in-the-you-know-what to whip us into shape. Having the cold hard facts before us can be just the impetus we need to make the changes that will increase our chances of having a long and healthy life.

But as always, what the study does not tell us is as important as what it does tell us. It doesn’t mention, for example, anything about long-term life expectancy. And will it actually motivate people to improve their health, or will it induce anxiety about health?

See Also: How to choose your health insurance plan

Over to you: Is Ubble a good idea? Will you take the test?

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