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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More