News / Health

Life Expectancy Declining in Large Parts of US

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid