The US Drops 21 Spots in Global Life Expectancy Rankings

New research predicts that U.S. life expectancy is set to fall far behind other high-income countries.

A study, published in the Lancet, analyzed data from the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases project, to generate life expectancy predictions from 2017-2040. Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations found that Americans will only live 1.1 years longer on average in 2040 compared to 2016 and that the average global rise of 4.4 years over the same time period. The average life expectancy in the US in 2016 was 78.7 and in 2040 is supposed to be just 79.8 years, which explains the drop from 43rd place to 64th place by 2040. 

Not only is the US supposed to have the largest drop in ranking of all high-income countries, but also it currently has the lowest life expectancy age. There are various factors that may be causing this decline. The increase of drug-related deaths and obesity rates are major influences on the stalling numbers. The National Center for Health Statistics found that obesity in adults is at its highest rate ever in the country with nearly four in every 10 adults and 18.5% of children being obese. Kyle Foreman, director of data science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and lead author of the study, states to CNN, “Whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers." Healthcare systems and regulations have a big impact on the general population's health because of the capability to manage factors of disease or premature death, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, tobacco, and drug use, etc. 

Spain is one of several European countries to offer tax-funded healthcare, allowing their healthcare system to rank as the seventh best in the world. By 2040, Spain’s predicted to surpass Japan’s long-held position at the top of the world’s life expectancy list. The top 10 based on life expectancy forecast for 2040 are the following: Spain (85.8 years), Japan (85.7 years), Singapore (85.4 years), Switzerland (85.2 years), Portugal (84.5 years), Italy (84.5 years), Israel (84.4 years) France (84.4 years), Luxembourg (84.1 years), Australia (84.1 years). The U.S. falls way further on the list by around 4-5 years, which marginally is significant. In order to make progress, the U.S. will need more regulations and opportunities regarding healthcare. Individuals will need to be more aware of their own health and strengthen their diets and lifestyles. 

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