The recent news that life expectancy has stopped rising in the UK hardly got a mention in a news agenda dominated by Brexit.

The news should not come as a total surprise, given that there have been widening geographical life expectancy differences for some time. So, for example, a person living in London or the South East will on average live several years longer than someone living in the North East. The gap between some areas is as wide as 10 years.

These figures have been largely ignored by government, which has used the mantra that everyone is living longer to extend the retirement age and attack pensions.

The news is good for the insurance industry, with companies who have sold annuities to people now reaping the harvest of early deaths. It is predicted that the insurance companies will make billions from this change in life expectancy – funds that they will give back to shareholders.

No one seems to be totally sure as to why there has been the change in life expectancy. Austerity policies have played a part, forcing more people into poverty and reducing support services.

Lifestyle must also be key. Today people live much more sedentary existences. The growing role of computers means much more work is static.

The obesity epidemic is likely to be contributing to life expectancy falling. Some of the statistics of obesity among the young are truly shocking. In parts of Redbridge, one in four children are obese by the time they reach Year 6.

Lack of exercise no doubt contributes to obesity, as does bad diet. Despite the nation's seeming fascination with cookery programmes, vast swathes of the country seem to have forgotten (or never learned) how to cook. Fast food abounds.

If we continue to move down the present path, life expectancy is going to drop further. The idea that everyone was living longer has been largely based on the immediate post-war generations. They tended to have balanced diets, took exercise and grew up in a time when supports, like the health service, were growing. Work was also more physically active over those years.

If we are to reverse the downward trend on life expectancy there needs to be real change. This must involve moves to address things like the obesity epidemic, redistribute wealth across the country and relearn the skills of balanced diets. The support network provided by the welfare state, including the NHS, also needs to increase. We need to relearn how to cook and perhaps also grow our own food. Failure to act now will see us all dying younger.