Health & Wellbeing

Average life expectancy on the rise – but the US lags behind

Average life expectancy on the...
A new study on longevity has found that by 2030, the average life expectancy for women in South Korea will surpass 90 years
A new study on longevity has found that by 2030, the average life expectancy for women in South Korea will surpass 90 years
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A new study on longevity has found that by 2030, the average life expectancy for women in South Korea will surpass 90 years
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A new study on longevity has found that by 2030, the average life expectancy for women in South Korea will surpass 90 years

Drawing on long-term data on mortality and longevity, researchers from the Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO) have predicted the average life expectancies for people in 35 countries born in 2030. Residents of every country in the study can expect to live longer, with South Korean women topping the list at 90 years – but it's not such great news for the US.

The 35 countries in the study were chosen because they all had reliable mortality data dating back at least 30 years, and included high-income countries like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, as well as emerging economies like Poland, Mexico and the Czech Republic.

Starting from that historical data, the researchers developed a new method for forecasting how those trends would continue into the future. The figure is calculated by looking at the age of death, by any cause, across a nation's entire population, meaning medical advances alone don't always account for improvements: for example, violence and accidents that take the lives of younger people can skew a country's average downwards.

Increases in life expectancy were seen across the board, but the average age of death and the rate of improvement varied by region. A baby girl born in South Korea in 2030, for example, could expect to live to the ripe old age of 90.8 years, while the average South Korean man should reach 84.1.

Australian and Swiss men born in 2030 can expect to hit 84, with Canada and the Netherlands trailing just slightly behind, at 83.9 and 83.7 respectively. After South Korea, French women should be the next longest-living at 88.6 years, followed closely by women in Japan at 88.4, Spain at 88.1 and Switzerland at 87.7 years.

"We repeatedly hear that improvements in human longevity are about to come to an end," says Majid Ezzati, lead researcher on the study. "Many people used to believe that 90 years is the upper limit for life expectancy, but this research suggests we will break the 90-year-barrier. I don't believe we're anywhere near the upper limit of life expectancy – if there even is one." Interestingly, other studies have suggested that the upper limit could be 125 years.

The new research also found that in 2030, people over the age of 65 will generally live longer than people of the same age do today. A South Korean woman who turns 65 in 2030 should live another 27.5 years, with French women the same age living a further 26.1 years, and Japan, Spain and Switzerland following close behind. Men of that age in 2030 were longest-living in Canada (an extra 22.6 years), New Zealand (22.5), Australia (22.2), South Korea (22) and Ireland (21.7).

"The increase in average life expectancy in high income countries is due to the over-65s living longer than ever before," says Colin Mathers, co-author of the study. "In middle-income countries, the number of premature deaths – i.e. people dying in their forties and fifties, will also decline by 2030."

So why have figures from the US been conspicuously absent so far? Unfortunately, the researchers point out that Americans born in 2030 are predicted to have the lowest life expectancy among developed countries – 83.3 years for women and 79.5 for men. A lack of universal healthcare poses a problem, as does unusually high rates of child and maternal mortality, homicide and obesity.

"The fact that we will continue to live longer means we need to think about strengthening the health and social care systems to support an aging population with multiple health needs," says Ezzati. "This is the opposite of what is being done in the era of austerity. We also need to think about whether current pension systems will support us, or if we need to consider working into later life."

The research was published in The Lancet.

Source: Imperial College London

6 comments
Derek Howe
I'm guessing a large part of why the US is so low on that list is because of A. How much we eat & B. What we eat. The average American eats too much food, and most of it is junk food. I'm not talking about candy, I'm talking about a meal that comes out of a bag, which took 30 seconds to make, or a frozen pizza out of a cardboard box. The old "you are what you eat" is true. I'm just as guilty as anyone, I do not eat healthy enough. Also, like most people in the US, I have health insurance, and a 401k from work. So I'm not reliant on any pension, or government health insurance issues.
KungfuSteve
Adding to Derek Howes comments... Its not mere the amount and kinds of foods... Its also the fact that most everything out there on a shelf... has a man made chemical and or un-natural processing in it. Then you add pesticides, that leech into the animal feed, then you eat the animals.. as well as the heavily chemicalized crops... and they are now in you. Then you add leeching of chemicals from food containers. Everything from canned food glue, to plastics... all releasing toxins into your food... and then your body. Have them produce a graph of the number of Gall bladder surgeries. I guarantee US is off the charts compared to other countries. Its one of those early warning signs... that something isnt right with the food. Add to this Thyroid issues. Another product of chemicals... messing with the bodys regulation. Which all leads to things like extreme levels of Allergies, as well as Auto-Immune responses.... where the body attacks itself to try to rid it of this crap. The process is not instant. But its weakening the western DNA / Biology... and its accelerating. Getting worse and worse each generation. The avg Asian, looks and reacts anywhere from 10 to 20 yrs younger than the avg. westerner. A clean and healthy diet is key. Adding in Autism to the mix too. All of these Mercury injections into infants... is the most ludicrous and insidious thing ever perpetrated into the brainwashed lemming slave masses.
Kpar
"A lack of universal healthcare poses a problem (in America), as does unusually high rates of child and maternal mortality, homicide and obesity." These numbers are skewed. In America, preemies are listed as live births- so if they die they contribute to the mortality figures, whereas in Europe, those are listed as stillbirths, and are not counted. "Universal" (National) Health Care is also proposed here as a positive thing, but the reality is that people seeking care in the US do not have the long wait times for diagnosis and treatment that characterize the NHC programs in other nations (and that has a lot to do with outcomes- did the author look into that?). Sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits are a legitimate cause for concern (as are the dangers of living in certain hellhole cities in the US), but this article, as written, distorts the truth.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The substitution of sugar for fat over the last forty years plays a big part.
Bob
Thousands of years ago, the Bible said the limit is 120 years. In the U.S. the average for men has decreased from 78 to 76. Look at all the obese children and adults and it should be obvious that the average lifespan will drop even lower.
KGN
Everyone needs to just table their agendas. This is due to eating more and moving less. It really is that simple. You can't blame politics or lack of healthcare for the poor choices of the American public. Care for your health and you won't need as much healthcare -- universal or otherwise. Many regions of the world with the highest levels of centenarians per capita (Okinawa, Sardinia, etc. -- see "Blue Zones" book by NatGeo author Dan Buettner for more) place a far higher importance on illness prevention rather than treatment, and that includes obesity.