This 70 Year Study Examined What Makes Folks Happy & Healthy

by Sumdima Rai
What if your life was studied from cradle to grave for the greater good of your society, nation, and mankind? A group of scientists embarked on one such ambitious journey in March 1946 by recording the birth of almost every British baby born that week.

As The Guardian recently reported, The Life Study followed this group of people (who turn 70 this year) with painstaking detail, starting with in-depth interviews with their mothers before their birth, gathering thousands of samples along the way, and tracking them over decades, therefore making these folks one of the most studied groups of people on the planet! In fact, The Life Study is the longest running major study of human development in the world. 

In the years that followed, four more of these “birth cohort” studies followed in 1958, 1970, the early 1990s, and at the turn of the millennium. Altogether, over 70,000 lives spread across five generations were studied, which gave way to fascinating revelations that helped influence government policy on everything from prenatal care during pregnancy to adult literacy, schooling, and helped shape scientists’ understanding of issues ranging from fetal development, chronic disease, aging, and death.

We think the Guardian article is worth a read to see how attitudes and approaches to everything from pre-natal care to education have changed in the last 70 years, and all of the advancements that have helped improve the health and lives of countless people around the world.

Want an even deeper dive? Helen Pearson has written a meticulous and engaging book called: “The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Lives.” You can read her account as she shares some important details about the cohort studies with The Guardian here.

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