We're living longer, but when will longevity plateau?

Overweight person The government is worried but our ageing population but what will be the cut off for longevity and will all our poor lifestyle choices actually start to reverse the years we have gained on our lives.

Longevity has been increasing steadily since the two World Wars, and certainly since the introduction of the state pension in 1948 when a person who retired at 65 was only expected to live another two years.

This is compared to a man aged 65 who can expect to live to 83 and a woman aged 65 who will live to 85.

But how long can longevity carry on increasing? Granted we've got a few more years to go but it has to stop at some point. We might have more people living to 100 but the real issue is quality of life.

Unfortunately the number of healthy years in retirement isn't keeping pace with increasing longevity. Men and women who retire at age 65 can expect to spend 56% and 57% respectively, of their retirement in good health.

So there are two main questions to answer; what is the cut off point for longevity and how many of those extra years will be of a decent standard where we are free from illness and disability?

I don't believe Dr Aubrey De Grey's prediction that humans will eventually live to 1000-years-old due to medical advancement. However, much medicine has advanced to diagnose illnesses earlier, treat them more effectively and keep us alive for longer, medical advancement cannot stop us from shortening our lives.

There is still a quarter of the UK population who smoke and the number of people who are considered obese has trebled over the past 25 years.

These factors, and others such as alcohol mis-use and increased stress levels, all have a negative impact on longevity but it will be interested to see whether our bad lifestyle choices will become so detrimental that we slow down longevity increases substantially or even reverse the trend altogether.

Our retired lives are becoming shorter by government order in that it is increasing the age at which we receive our state pension, which the majority of people rely on as their main income in old age. All of the poor lifestyle choices that we make mean we are shortening our lives at the other end of retirement and dying earlier.