Health & Fitness

The good news: We’ll live longer. The bad news: We’ll die before others

The absence of universal health care, growing obesity rates, rising income inequality, high homicide rates, and high maternal and child mortality rates explain, in part, why the U.S. is not winning the longevity stakes.
The absence of universal health care, growing obesity rates, rising income inequality, high homicide rates, and high maternal and child mortality rates explain, in part, why the U.S. is not winning the longevity stakes.

Here’s the good news: We’re going to live longer.

American women are expected to live an average of more than 83 years, while men may reach an average of 80 by 2030 — an uptick from 2010 estimates. Currently, American women live to an average of 81 years, while men live to an average of 77.

The prediction comes in a study just published in The Lancet, which ran 21 different statistical models across 35 different developed nations to arrive at the conclusion.

The bad news: The U.S. doesn’t top this longevity list; other developed countries do better.

In the female longevity stakes, South Korea is projected to fare the best in terms of future life span, with the country’s women predicted to live an average of more than 90 years by 2030. Currently they live an average of about 84 years. France came in second (French women expected to live to 88.6 years), with Japanese women coming in at third at 88.4 years by 2030.

South Korean men were also on top of the list, with researchers predicting them to live to just over 84 years. Tied for second: Australian and Swiss men expected to reach 84 years of age. 

Such numbers would have been thought of as unrealistic just a few years ago. “As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years,” study lead author Majid Ezzati noted in a statement. “Our predictions of increasing life spans highlight our public health and health care successes.”

However, Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health in England, warned that societies need to focus on policies that will support the growing older population.

“In particular, we will need to both strengthen our health and social care systems and to establish alternative models of care such as technology-assisted home care,” Ezzati added.

While American life expectancy is not growing at the pace of other developed countries, the Ezzati team’s prediction tracks a multi-year trend that has shown the U.S. falling behind other rich countries. This is due, in part, to the absence of universal healthcare, growing obesity rates, rising income inequality, high homicide rates, and high maternal and child mortality rates.

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