About one in three middle-aged people has multiple chronic health issues, a long-running British study suggests.
The 1970 British Cohort Study has been periodically tracking the lives of about 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week.
Nearly 8,000 of them were surveyed for the University College London work, published in journal BMC Public Health.
And 34% had two or more chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure and mental ill-health, at age 46-48.
The most commonly recorded health problems were:
high-risk drinking – 26%
recurrent back problems – 21%
mental-health problems – 19%
high blood pressure – 16%
Arthritis, type 2 diabetes and asthma or bronchitis also featured.
Lead researcher Dr Dawid Gondek said he was surprised and worried to see how many had health issues while “still relatively young”.
“A substantial proportion of the population are already suffering from multiple long-term physical and mental-health problems in their late 40s.
“It is not a good prospect for an aging population that you can expect to live longer but many in poor health.”
Diabetes and high blood pressure were both more common among those who were obese.
Those from poorer backgrounds or who experienced mental ill health as a teenager were also more likely to have poor health.
And the researchers suggest targeted public health interventions in childhood and adolescence might improve the outcomes of future generations.
Even in later life, experts advise, a good diet, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking and taking regular exercise can make a difference.