Posted on Feb 11, 2011, 6 a.m.
National Academy of Sciences Report finds that US life expectancy lags behind that of many other high-income countries despite spending the most on healthcare.
In that life expectancy at age 50 in the United States has been rising during the past 25 years, it does at a slower pace than in many other high-income countries, and considering that the nation spends more on healthcare than any other. The National Research Council’s Panel on Understanding Divergent Trends in Longevity in High-Income Countries (US) reports that in the US in 2006, the average life expectancy at birth was 75.1 years for men and 80.2 years for women, rising from 47.9 years and 50.7 years, respectively, in 1900 and 65.4 and 71 in 1950. However, life expectancy for Japanese men stood at 79.2 years in 2007 and 86 years for women, up from 57.6 and 60.9 in 1950; as well, in France, life expectancy for men increased from 63.4 years in 1950 to 77.4 years in 2007, and rose for women from 69.2 years to 84.4 years. The Panel determined that smoking, obesity and lack of exercise are among the primary factors shortchanging US life expectancy gains. Noting that a major contributor in the lag in life expectancy in the U.S. was heart disease, the Panel observes that while the US performs well in the detection and treatment of several of the main sources of early mortality, including cancer and strokes, but the nation falls short in preventive medicine and curbing unhealthy lifestyles.
Eileen M. Crimmins, Samuel H. Preston, Barney Cohen, Editors; Panel on Understanding Divergent Trends in Longevity in High-Income Countries; National Research Council. “Explaining divergent levels of longevity in high-income countries." Natl Res Council 2011.