News / Health

    Life Expectancy Declining in Large Parts of US

    Multimedia

    Carol Pearson

    The obesity epidemic is not just an American health issue.  New data from the World Health Organization show that more than 1 billion adults around the world are overweight, nearly a third of them obese. Their weight problems are adding to the global burden of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease and swelling the number of premature deaths worldwide. Obesity is causing significant declines in longevity around the world, in poor countries and rich ones, including the United States.

    A baby born in America in 2009 could expect to live an average of 78 years, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  

    That's still true in many parts of the United States. But in some places, life expectancy has leveled off or even dropped slightly - a rarity in a developed country and, public health officials say, a cause for alarm.  A study in the Journal of Health Metrics shows the United States now ranks behind 10 other developed countries when it comes to life expectancy, even though Americans spend more on health care than people in most other countries.

    The study had another surprising finding, according to journal editor, Dr. Chris Murray:

    "It's a real surprise to us in the study that women are faring so much worse than men," noted Murray.

    American women still live longer than men by five to eight years. But they have picked up some bad habits.

    "Women are now smoking more.  The obesity epidemic in women is greater than in men. Progress in tackling blood pressure is much worse in women," Murray added.

    Studies show the obesity epidemic is most widespread  in America's southern states. One study last year shows that in ten states in that region, two-thirds of the residents were either overweight or obese.

    Dr. Morris Washington is a surgeon in South Carolina who is now performing bariatric or gastric by-pass surgery on morbidly obese teenagers.  He points to the southern diet, with its fried and rich foods that are high in calories.  He also attributes the obesity problem to too much sitting.

    "We're basically a car society where we drive from one thing to another and basically do all your living right out of your car,” said Morris.

    At the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Frank Hu has been studying sedentary lifestyles and their impact on obesity, type 2 diabetes and premature death.  He blames a lot of obesity-related diseases on time spent in front of the television.

    “The more time people spend watching TV, the higher their risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and also increased risk of death," noted Hu.

    Longevity depends on many things, including getting exercise, good medical care and maintaining a healthy weight. But as Americans adopt more sedentary lifestyles and turn increasingly to processed, high-calorie fast foods, keeping off excess weight and living a longer, healthier life is a serious challenge.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora