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The Truth About American Life Expectancy

From the ever flaky dependable Live Science:

The Truth About Record-Setting U.S. Life Expectancy

By Robert Roy Britt, Editorial Director

19 August 2009

Life expectancy in the United States rose to an all-time high, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. But that’s only half the story.

The country is behind about 30 others on this measure.

Though the United States has by far the highest level of health care spending per capita in the world, we have one of the lowest life expectancies among developed nations — lower than Italy, Spain and Cuba and just a smidgeon ahead of Chile, Costa Rica and Slovenia, according to the United Nations. China does almost as well as we do. Japan tops the list at 83 years.

And in an era where advances in medicine and better understanding of health issues should boost life expectancy significantly, the gains announced today were modest.

U.S. life expectancy reached nearly 78 years (77.9) in 2007, the latest year for which data from death certificates has been compiled. That’s up from 77.7 in 2006. Over the past decade, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years.

In fact, U.S. life expectancy gains may be pretty much over, as some groups — particularly people in rural locations — are already stagnating or slipping, explains LiveScience columnist Christopher Wanjek. Meantime, soaring rates of obesity and diabetes among children and adults, owing mostly to lousy diets and lack of exercise, portend depressing mortality rates to come.

Life expectancy is defined as how long a person born today is expected to live if current trends continue.

Both men and women set new records in the CDC numbers, with life expectancy now 75.3 years for men and 80.4 years for women (who suffer more in old age, other research shows). The gap between men and women narrowed since the peak gap of 7.8 years in 1979 to 5.1 years in 2007, the same as in 2006.

Other findings from the 2007 data:

For the first time, life expectancy for black males reached 70 years.

Heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death, accounted for nearly half (48.5 percent) of all deaths in 2007.

Between 2006 and 2007, declines in mortality rates were found for eight of the 15 top causes of death: influenza and pneumonia (down 8.4 percent), homicide (6.5 percent), accidents (5 percent), heart disease (4.7 percent), stroke (4.6 percent), diabetes (3.9 percent), hypertension (2.7 percent), and cancer (1.8 percent).

Of course, that means the rates did not decline for seven other leading causes, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and liver disease, all for which statistically insignificant increases occurred.

Does anyone actually believe that we will spend less for healthcare under Mr. Obama’s plan?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, August 20th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

16 Responses to “The Truth About American Life Expectancy”

  1. Colonel1961 says:

    This was linked on Yahoo! Sick. How can they continue repeating this rubbish from the UN’s WHO about the United States being behind in 30 other categories. We have the best health care in the world. And our life expectancy continues to rise in spite of our high risk lifestyles, e.g., shootings, obesity, traffic deaths (i.e., not a lot of people dying from traffic deaths in poor, marxist, Cuba because they don’t have as many cars per capita…). Anything to bash or diminish the US of A.

  2. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    And pray tell what is the quality of life for the gap between the US and other, socialist, countries?

    I agree with Colonel, McDonalds does a body good.

  3. proreason says:

    The facts are that once simple lifestyle factors are removed (i.e., auto accidents, suicides, murders, military deaths, drug and alcohol-related deaths, and obesity-related deaths), Americans have one of , if not the longest average lifespan in the world. And some of the countries that exceed our longevity have fish and vegetable based diets, rather than red meat and carbohydrate-based diets. Maybe we can be criticized for all of that, but it does not say anything about the quality of our medical care.

    That’s what explains the well-known, but seemingly contradictory statistics, that show Americans have superior survival rates for all forms of cancer, heart disease, and most other illnesses. In other words, if you don’t get killed, you will live longer in America.

    And even that doesn’t take into consideration the fact that we are much more rigorous about tracking infant mortality (which has a big impact on longevity, since the deaths of infants has an out-sized impact on longevity statistics, and we count many infant mortatilites that other countries do not.)

    And even that doesn’t take into consideration that the U.S. is one of the least homogenous populations of all countries. In other words, our longevity stats reflect healthy percentages of Mexican and third-world health care and lifestyles that other countries (like Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, etc.) do not have.

    • VMAN says:

      As usual Pro, well said . My wife took a statistics course in college and one of the required books was “How To Lie With Statistics”.

  4. MinnesotaRush says:

    I’m curious.

    Do their counts include those innocents who die before leaving the womb (for ALL reasons); or are these stats just for those who make it thru to birth.

    What kinds of records is the US setting on that abortion thing.

    (Both items are probably more of a statement than a question.)

  5. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    It’s a trade off really. While visiting Sweden years ago i don’t think I ever saw an overweight person although given time I’m sure I would have. The Swedish diet is rich in protein and dairy. Mostly from fish. But their government which gives them cradle to grave benefits taxes the hell out of them. And alcoholism is a big problem over there. Not to mention the suicide rate. So while Americans on average might be less healthy, we still enjoy a happier, free society. Unfortunately the Swedes are seeing their beautiful country taken over by violent immigrants, mostly from the Muslim world. Their leaders are creating a hell on earth for their indigenous inhabitants. What kind of quality of life is that?

  6. mpauline says:

    Hi 12 Gauge Rage,

    Do you think one has to give up their freedoms to be healthier?

    What percentage of Muslim immigrants would you say are violent and creating that hell on earth in Sweden?

    • canary says:

      mpauline, The percentage of Muslim terrorists in Sweden has been growing for quite a few years now. Now, the Islam terrorists are using rocket launchers, bombs, etc. There is a rise over the entire world wide. I hate watching us follow in the steps of UK, because it will get as bad as Sweden. They have declared a Holy War on the entire world, because of the Koran.

      If Obama’s health care’s one payer by 2013 passes, and the government becomes in charge, it violates the 4th amendment, unlawful search and seizure.

  7. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    I believe that your are healthier if given more freedom. It’s obvious that one can survive in less than desirable circumstances. Otherwise there would be nobody living in countries with totalitarian regimes.

    Quite honestly I have no figures as to what percentage of Muslim immigrants are inciting violence in Sweden. I can only go by what my wife’s relatives in Sweden tell us. Yes, I have met Muslims who wouldn’t harm a fly. But as with any group it’s always the bad apples that get the press and whose deeds that people remember the most.

  8. mpauline says:

    Ok, cool.

    What did you mean about a trade off then?

  9. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Basically what I mean is that for other countries with a higher life expectancy, they will sometimes counter this with destructive habits. When I lived in Europe for about eight years (West Germany at that time) I would comment to my hosts about how bad smoking was for their health. One old salty German just laughed at me and commented that we’re all going to die of something someday. So I dropped it then and there. In short, while others have a healthier diet and live longer, nothing is said about their overall quality of life. When you’re young you tend not to think too much about your health because we all believe that we have our whole life ahead of us. And that tomorrow we’ll take better steps to lead a healthier life.

  10. mpauline says:

    I totally agree. I always say I’m going to start regular exercise but I keep pushing it back.

  11. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    LD, the last time I was on TDY was to Brindisi, southern Italy. Young, old, and even underaged kids were smoking cigarettes like they were human chimneys. Marlborough seemed to be the preferred brand. Aside from that destructive vice to their health, my Italian hosts were very friendly, humorous, and getting on with life. Smoking too many cigarettes were the least of their concerns.

  12. proreason says:

    Check out this buzz chart showing the increase in Life Expectancy vs Health Care Spending.

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWE4ZGIzMDk1NzE3NWJjN2I3NmIzYTI0YjhiNDQxOTc=

    Money quote: “Would any of you willingly give back 20 years in exchange for less health-care spending?” (which is exactly what Obamy intends to do to YOU).

    This is exactly the point I make when I say anybody can cut his health care costs dramatically, and easily. All you have to do is refuse treatments and drugs that have been developed in the last 20 years.

  13. This statistic is wildly skewed by infant mortality. Each infant death is a 0 to average in. We try to save babies that are three, even four months premature. These deaths are averaged in. We keep honest records.

    In Cuba and other communist countries you have to realize that the government keeps the stats. You have to trust them to report them accurately even though it is not to their benefit to do so.

    Even in countries like Mexico and Columbia, there is a peasant class whose early deaths are rarely reported.

    If you look at the life expentancy of a 75 year old White vs 75 year old African-American: you will find the African-American lives longer.


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