LONDON: Millions of Britons are ‘four years older than they think’ because of their couch potato ways, according to a study.

It warns that their failing health is ‘creating a timebomb’ for companies that already lose billions of pounds through sick days - and will face even bigger costs if absenteeism rises because of workers’ increased ill health. Nearly nine out of ten workers are shortening their life expectancy by four years through their sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, according to the report out Monday.

Some 86 per cent of the 9,559 workers surveyed have a ‘health age’ of four years older than their real age, says the study for health insurer PruHealth.

The calculation is based on an estimate of years ‘lost’ when certain risk factors are taken into consideration and, it is claimed, gives people an understanding of their ‘true level of health’. It takes into account BMI (body mass index), cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, smoking, alcohol, nutrition, exercise, stress and well-being.–DM