Our health challenges

The gap in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy (HLE) between the Black Country and England, is driven by wider determinants of health, our health behaviours and lifestyles, the places and communities we live in and with and our health services.

In the Black Country, the life expectancy is 77 years for males and 82 years for females, similar to national life expectancy of 79 years for males and 83 years for females.
People with mental health problems and learning disabilities have shorter life expectancies (18 years for males, 15 years for females) which is driven by their physical health.

In the Black Country, the healthy life expectancy is 59 years for males and 60 years for females, which is lower than the national healthy life expectancy of 63 years for males and 64 years for females.

A high proportion of our population are from ethnic minority groups compared to England. Nationally HLE is lower in most Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

Wider determinants are the most important driver of health. They include income, employment, education, skills and training, housing, access to services, the environment and crime. These are measured by the index of multiple deprivation (IMD).

Our health behaviours and lifestyles are the second most important driver of health.

They include smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise. Both child (46.9% vs 37.8%) and adult (71.5% vs 63.8%) obesity rates are higher than national, whilst physical activity levels (57.8% vs 67.3%) are significantly lower.

We have some of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, whilst smoking rates in pregnancy remain high and breast-feeding rates are low.

Inequalities between the Black Country and England and Healthy Life Expectancy is lower for both females and males. However, we also have many inequalities and COVID-19 has exacerbated these inequalities.

Locally, we have higher recorded prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic heart disease, cancers, respiratory illnesses and depression.