U.S. life expectancy rising, but not as fast as other countries

John E. Hoover is defying the odds. At age 86, he has already well surpassed the average life expectancy for an American male, despite the fact that he smoked for 30 years. He attributes it to 32 years in the U.S. military.
“That’s a rather active life,” said the retired Major General, who still exercises every day in the pool at Brandon Wilde.
While it is increasing, life expectancy in the U.S. has not risen at the rate it has in other countries, such as Japan, Germany and France. A report out today from the National Research Council of the National Academies looks at why. The differences are particularly striking for women. Heavier smoking rates 30 to 50 years ago is a big reason, the report concludes. While rates of smoking have declined, any gains could be wiped out by a higher level of obesity in the U,S., although that appears to have leveled in recent years, the report noted.
The differences are clear when looking at the latter stages of life. In 1980, for instance, the average life expectancy for a 50-year-old woman in the U.S. was 30.6, about the same as in similar high-income countries such as Australia, Canada and France. By 2007, however, while that life expectancy had increased by 2.5 years to 33.1, the same life expectancy for women in the comparable countries had increased on average by 3.9 years, the report noted. For a 50-year-old woman in Japan it had increased by 6.4 years, for instance, and in Italy by 5.9 years, the report noted.
From birth, the life expectancy for men in the U.S. is 75.6 years and for women is 80.8 years, according to the report. Japan has the highest life expectancy for women from birth at 86 years; Australia has the highest life expectancy for men at 79.27 years, just edging out Japan at 79.2.
Hoover. who was stationed in Germany for three years, believes it is the more active lifestyles, particularly walking, that favor people in European countries. The report bears him out - Germany, for instance, has half the rate of inactive people that the U.S. has.

For more, see Wednesday’s Augusta Chronicle.



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