A quiz by Swedish researchers is said to estimate your risk of dying in the next five years
It then calculates your "Ubble age" -- the average age of people in the UK with similar risk
The questions are designed for people aged 40 to 70-years-old, living in the UK
Forget clairvoyants, fortune tellers or tarot cards: If you have a burning desire to know how far you are along life’s path, this online quiz claims to be able to provide an estimate.
The quiz, on the website “Ubble” (a nickname for UK Longevity Explorer), is designed for UK residents aged between 40 and 70 years old.
It estimates participants’ risk of dying in the next five years, then sees how that risk aligns to UK age averages to give an “Ubble age.”
“So for example, if you’re a 53-year-old woman and your estimated risk of dying in five years is 2.4%, the most similar risk in the UK life tables is of a 56-year-old woman. So your Ubble age would be 56,” co-founder of the quiz, Erik Ingelsson, said in an article on The Conversation.
Designed by Swedish researchers Andrea Ganna and Ingelsson, the quiz is based on a UK Biobank study of 500,000 people and published in the “Lancet” medical journal. It’s “the largest study of this kind in the world, with a very broad range of different measurements that allow you to do this kind of analysis,” Ingelsson told CNN.
An assessment of 655 variables of demographics, health, and lifestyle led to the identification of the strongest mortality predictors by a computer program, with 13 questions set for men, and 11 for women.
Participants are asked whether they smoke, if they have ever been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or diabetes, how many people they live with, how many cars they own, and whether their walking place is brisk, slow or if they never walk.
“I think it’s important to point out that we’re not saying that any of these questions are causal factors,” Ingelsson said. “So the question about the number of vehicles … I think it’s a proxy for socio-economic status. That’s my guess.” He emphasized that hundreds of variables are contained within the few questions.
Although some of the questions are similar for men and women, Ingelsson said, others, such as the number of children one has, were specific to women. And researchers say the quiz is a better forecaster of death than physical measures, such as blood pressure.
“I do think that’s one of the most interesting finds of this study, that is highlighted in the ‘Lancet’ paper, is that simple questions were doing a better job than quite dedicated, specific measurements.” One of its advantages is that the questions take into account many different factors, Ingelsson said.
But he added, “the conclusion of our study is definitely not that you stop measuring these things. But quite surprisingly enough, it doesn’t improve the risk prediction of beyond the questions.”
At the end of the quiz, you can see how your responses affected your estimated risk of death. But the quiz won’t tell you how to change your lifestyle. “If you buy one more car, that won’t make you live longer, for example,” said Ingelsson. “Or if you walk faster, that won’t prolong your life either.”
Ingelsson, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden said that while the data could be important for health professionals and researchers, further tests would be needed before the quiz could be used by medical professionals.
And what if you’re distressed by the findings of the quiz?
A disclaimer at the bottom of the website’s homepage clarifies that it doesn’t offer a medical or professional service and such information needs to be sought elsewhere.
“If it raises some specific concerns then people should see their healthcare professional,” said Ingelsson. “But I think the risk of that is relatively low, because most people are quite aware of their own health already.”