UbbLE – introducing the UK’s longevity explorer

Article posted: August 2015

Would you like to know your chances of dying in the next five years…?

Amidst all the concerns about ‘big data’, it is easy to forget that large quantities of information can provide valuable insights that have nothing to do with terrorism threats or the invasion of privacy.

A good example emerged recently in the form of UbbLE – the UK longevity explorer. The ‘bb’ part of the name refers to the UK’s Biobank, which is a charity that recruited 500,000 people from across the country aged between 40-69 years from 2006-2010 willing to undergo long term monitoring of their health. The information so far gleaned, which covers over 650 measurements per person, has been used by two Swedish scientists to produce an online ‘risk calculator’. This estimates the risk of death in the next five years for anyone aged between 40 and 70.

If you fall into that age band, it is worth having a look at the calculator (http://ubble.co.uk/risk-calculator/). It will not ask you 600+ questions, just 13 for men and two fewer for women. Some are what you might expect – age, smoking habits – but others are surprising, such as “how many cars/vans are owned, or available for use, by you or members of your household?” The mix and content of the questions is the result of analysing all that volume of data to find the best predictors of short term mortality. For example, the car/van question works because research revealed it is closely correlated to wealth, which is an important factor in mortality (hence the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea boasting the best UK life expectancy).

The probabilities generated by the calculator are just that – UbbLE says that they are “in no way intended to be an accurate prediction of the relevant risk related to a specific person”. With that caveat in mind, the results nevertheless serve as a reminder that, even over just half a decade, none of us should assume we are immortal. Now, about checking up on your short term life assurance cover…

Whilst we cannot help with physical ailments, we can certainly provide you with a financial health check, so please get in touch with us.

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