A new study shows the grim future and reality of Americans’ life expectancy at birth. According to the latest research, life expectancy at birth — the average length of time that people are expected to live continues to drop for Americans. What’s to blame? Drug overdoses, suicides, alcohol-related illnesses, and obesity seem to be the biggest culprits. These issues have been increasing since the 1980s and have no signs in stopping.
However, other studies have shown that the US had been making steady progress. Life expectancy improved by nearly ten years over the last half-century — from 69.9 years in 1959 to 78.9 years in 2016. Yet, the rate of increase slowed over the years, while other countries similar to the US have continued to show a steady rise in life expectancy.
Following the year 2010, US life expectancy plateaued, and in 2014 it began reversing, dropping for three years in a row — from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017. This is even though the US spends the most on healthcare per capita than any other country in the world.
What are we doing wrong?
According to a study published over the holiday weekend, “Of all age groups, adults 25 to 64 years old saw the largest increase in mortality rates — 6%.”
The study also showed that the Ohio Valley, which includes West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, as well as the northern New England area, and New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, saw the most significant relative spike in deaths.
Fatal drug overdoses for people in midlife, increased 386.5% between 1999 and 2017, the study found. Obesity in midlife mortality rates jumped 114%. Deaths linked to hypertension for this age group skyrocketed by 78.9%. Mortality rates connected to alcohol-related problems, such as chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, raised 40.6% overall during that same time frame. Suicide rates jumped by 38.3% for people ages 25 to 64, and by 55.9% for people ages 55 to 64.
Surprising, about 80% of adults don’t meet physical activity guidelines, and the majority of American adults are overweight or obese — some 71%, reported by the CDC.
Those who suffer from weight problems are usually faced with other heart issues that can lead to an early death.
“We can’t always assume an increase in life expectancy year in and year out, and the nation risks a future where this may be a disturbing new normal,” wrote Dr. Howard Koh, who published an editorial to accompany the study.
Koh is a top Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
“It is a whole constellation of conditions they have shown impacts life expectancy. It is not just medical conditions, but also the social drivers that appear to be at play, like income inequality and mental distress,” Koh added.
“Health starts with where you live, labor, learn, play and pray,” Koh said. “What that means is that we need to embed a culture of health through all sectors of society.”
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider. Helping individuals looking for the right treatment programs in their area. Also providing information on drug rehab centers for addiction recovery.