Americans die younger than other nations
June 15, 2011
Americans are living longer than ever before, but compared with the healthiest nations in the world, their life expectancy is shorter and falling behind. Even Californians, who fare better than the national average, are living shorter lives than their peers around the world. [California Watch]
In 2007, the average American man could expect to live 75.6 years, and a woman 80.8 years, according to research released today by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. But between 2000 and 2007, more than 80 percent of counties in the United States fell behind the 10 nations with the best life expectancy in the world.
The United States was ranked 37th in the world for life expectancy in 2007.
“The progress has been less than what those 10 countries have been able to achieve,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the institute and co-author of the study to California watch. “We’re falling behind what’s medically possible.”
A study published in the journal Population Health Metrics attributes the shorter life expectancy in the United States to preventable risk factors – namely tobacco use, obesity and high blood pressure.
“We put less money and attention into both public health programs and primary care than some other health systems,” Murray added. “As a nation or as a community, every reduction in tobacco consumption and reduction in blood pressure is going to contribute to and enhance life expectancy.”
Californians live longer than the average American – 77.4 years for men and 82.2 years for women. Among states, California men have the seventh-highest life expectancy and women the fifth, said California Watch.
Even so, with few exceptions, Californians’ life expectancy is still shorter than that of the healthiest nations.
The benefits of improved health care can be seen on both a global and local level, Murray said to California Watch.
Australia is also home to a diverse population struggling with an obesity epidemic. But as the United States has fallen behind in life expectancy, Australia has steadily improved life expectancies.
The difference, Murray said, is greater emphasis on primary care and public health programs.