Live long and prosper

Life Expectancy

By pH health care professionals

Life expectancy is one way to assess the overall health of different countries and populations. In the U.S., for example, life expectancy has been increasing over the years, according to the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. The latest numbers are age 81 for females and 76 for males. The overall age for life expectancy in the U.S. is around 78. Many people can also attest that they know people well into their 80s and even 90s. But even still, we may be lagging behind.

So how does the U.S. compare to other countries regarding life expectancy?

The U.S. is dropping in rankings compared with other industrialized countries. Japan has the longest life expectancy at 84 years, followed by countries such as Switzerland, Singapore, Italy and Sweden. Life expectancy in the U.S. ranked 27th among the 34 nations that are considered our “economic peers.” Though we, by far, spend the most on health care, the U.S. was also 27th out of 34 for body mass index (an indicator of obesity) and 29th for blood sugar.

Why?

The U.S. continues to advance in medical treatment, but it is clear that many people do not have adequate access to medical care. Only two out of 10 U.S. counties are improving in health, while eight out of 10 are even or worse. The poorest counties have life expectancy rates similar to third world countries.

Experts have also pointed out that many factors accounting for the U.S. lagging behind its peers can be changed and prevented, such as obesity, tobacco, motor vehicle accidents, an “epidemic” of prescription drug overdoses, and poor diet (increasing your risk for heart attacks!).

What can be done?

Be proactive and educate yourself about your health. Seek out professional assistance to quit smoking. Take steps toward improving your activity levels and diet. You may even want to get nutritional testing so you know exactly where you need to improve. Aim for a healthy, happy lifestyle -- see list of tools from the Mayo Clinic.   

Also know (and where possible, improve) your health risks, depending on your age, family traits, the environment you are living in, work and relationship situations, stress levels, sleep habits, nutrition, recreational drug use and risky behaviors. These all affect your health.

Have a regular preventive medical check-up every year. Guidelines for preventive medicine are at Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and you can also check guidelines by age.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

Newsletter