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Life expectancy in U.S. depends on where you live

Consumer Reports News: June 17, 2011 01:53 PM

How long you live depends a lot on where you live, according to an analysis of U.S. life expectancy figures released this week. It found wide variation in those rates in U.S. counties, ranging from 65.9 to 81.1 years for men and 73.5 to 86.0 years for women. And compared to other developed countries, like Japan and Canada, we’re falling behind, the analysis found. The average life expectancy in the U.S. in 2007 was 75.6 years for men and 80.8 years for women, both 37th in the world.

The study, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, suggests that the relatively low life expectancies in the U.S. can’t be explained by the size of the nation, racial diversity, or economics. Instead, it points to the high rates of obesity, tobacco use, and other preventable risk factors as the leading drivers of the gap between the U.S. and other nations.

In the U.S., men live the longest in Fairfax County, Va. while women live the longest in Collier, Fla. Both men and women live the shortest in Holmes County, Miss. Life expectancy is also uneven within some states. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia have seen some counties increase more than five years in life expectancy since 1987, while neighboring counties have seen a decrease. Worldwide, men live the longest in Iceland (80.2 years) with Hong Kong, Switzerland, Australia, and Japan rounding out the top five. Women live the longest in Japan (86.2 years), followed by Hong Kong, France, Switzerland, and Italy.

The IHME studied data from 3,138 counties, 10 cities, and 197 countries and territories for the report, “Falling Behind: Life expectancy in U.S. Counties from 2000 to 2007.” It was published in Population Health Metrics.

See our tips on how to stop smoking, lose excess weight, and eat right.

Life expectancy in most US counties falls behind world’s healthiest nations [Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation]
Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context [Population in Health Metrics]

Evan MacDonald

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