Sunday, August 12, 2007

US Slipping in Life Expectancy Rankings

US Slipping in Life Expectancy Rankings AP News/My Way News 8/12/07 "Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries...For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles..."Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray...A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier...Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore...The shortest life expectancies were clustered in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been hit hard by an epidemic of HIV and AIDS, as well as famine and civil strife. Swaziland has the shortest, at 34.1 years, followed by Zambia, Angola, Liberia and Zimbabwe...Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations.
  • A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care..."
  • Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight
  • Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.
  • A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations
  • Another reason for the U.S. drop in the ranking is that the Census Bureau now tracks life expectancy for a lot more countries - 222 in 2004 - than it did in the 1980s

So there you have it. It's mostly down to a worsening health care system, lack of insurance, lousy health habits of Americans, African Americans suffering disproportionately in our system and increased number of Census Bureau trackings. So for the US to increase life expectancy now should be relatively simple. Right...

For an interesting interactive study in life expectancy rankings check out this new Google technology. Gapminder World beta. Google does it again, thanks to their attention to TED.

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