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Vitality Research Institute
Advancing the science of behaviour change to better understand the relationship between
behaviours and health outcomes, longevity and productivity.

Who we are

The Vitality Research Institute is Vitality's dedicated research unit that helps to advance the science of behaviour change so we can better understand the relationship between behaviours and outcomes. We work with academic institutions and global research partners and look to bring our research to life to ensure it has practical application with businesses, individuals and society, aligned with our Shared Value business model.

Our work is focused on tackling some important health challenges facing the UK:

  • Creating and sustaining a healthy and productive workforce
  • Enabling individuals to live more years in good health.

Our Latest Research

Introducing the Maximising Healthspan report

While life expectancy has increased dramatically over the last century, not all life years gained are being lived in good health. The first of the Vitality Research Institute’s research papers aims to address this growing divergence between quantity and quality of life, highlighting the changes that individuals can make to support their health and retirement.
Read the report

Looking beyond life expectancy

Lifespan [or life expectancy]

How long a person lives, from birth to death.

Healthspan [or healthy life expectancy]
The effective number of years lived in good health.
Healthspan gap
The difference between lifespan and healthspan. It refers to the gap between quality and quantity of life caused by diseases, injuries, frailty and more.

Quality of life is diminishing in the UK 

Better healthcare treatment and technologies have led to an increased lifespan in the UK, with people now living around five years longer than they did in 1990.

Unfortunately, healthy life expectancy has grown at a slower rate, leading to a widening healthspan gap and reduced quality of life. In the UK, around 7.3 million healthy years of life are lost each year, partly due to our poor lifestyle choices.


The implications of a widening healthspan gap

It’s not just individuals who suffer as a result. UK businesses are losing up to £39 billion per annum through productivity loss alone – losses due to employees’ poor lifestyle behaviours and mental ill health. The healthcare system is facing mounting costs as well, with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes – mostly preventable – increasing in prevalence over time.

The economic pay-off from reducing the healthspan gap is considerable across the economy, and can be sustained in the future.

Prevention and behaviour change are the solution

So, what can be done?
Focus should be on well-structured health strategies that combine treatment with preventive actions focused on encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviours and reducing metabolic risks. Delivered through a strong coalition of individuals, corporations and the government, lasting benefits for health and longevity can be achieved for individuals, the economy, and society as a whole.

Read our reasoning for promoting physical activity and healthy diet as the key actions, as well as the proposed action points in the full report.

"While life expectancy provides a measure of a society’s progress, it is our health span, the number of years we can expect to live in good health, that should demand our attention with a focus on quality of life."

- Professor Dame Carol Black
Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the Department of Health (England) and former Principal of Newnham College Cambridge

Further research

  • Apple Watch study

    Written in partnership with RAND, this study assesses the association between Vitality's Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit and sustained physical activity improvement.

  • Workplace study

    This article, carried out with researchers from the University of East Anglia, looks at implications of companies' wellbeing strategies on changes in employee health and wellbeing.

  • Employee engagement

    This study carried out with researchers from Stanford University explores the sequential steps of employee engagement in workplace wellness interventions and their impact on employee health.

  • Global physical activity

    A study with RAND Europe and researchers from the University of Birmingham looking at the potential benefits of increased physical activity for the global economy.

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