Published: Thu, February 23, 2017
Health Care | By Kelly Miles

Lagging US Life Expectancy Soon Might Be 'Similar' To Mexico

Lagging US Life Expectancy Soon Might Be 'Similar' To Mexico

Life expectancies in developed countries are projected to continue increasing, with women's potentially surpassing 90 years in South Korea by 2030, the research in "The Lancet" reveals.

Girls born in the country that year can expect to live, on average, to almost 91, and boys to 84, the highest in the world for both sexes (see 'Ageing populations'). For women, France, Japan, Spain and Switzerland were next on the list, with a life expectancy of 88.

United States life expectancy is already lower than most other high-income nations and by 2030 is predicted to lag behind countries such as Croatia and Mexico.

Compared to other rich countries, the United States' homicide, obesity, and child mortality rate are also working against its citizens.

It's also the only high-income country without comprehensive health care.

By 2030, American women will live an average of more than 83 years, while men may reach an average of 80, a new study estimates.

Methuselah lived to the age of 969 in the Bible.

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Life expectancy is projected to increase in all 35 countries but at vastly different rates, according to the researchers, who said they developed and combined 21 models to make the projections, using a statistical technique that is common in weather forecasting.

Professor Colin Mathers, co-author from the World Health Organization explained: "The increase in average life expectancy in high income countries is due to the over-65s living longer than ever before".

"[South Korea] has low levels of obesity and blood pressure - lower than most Western countries - has lower rates of smoking in women", he said. Many people used to believe that 90 years is the upper limit for life expectancy, but this research suggests we will break the 90-year-barrier.

The team predicted a girl born in South Korea in 2030 will on average live to 91 and a boy to 84. In most places, gains in life span will come more from postponing death among older people, rather than eliminating killers of the young and middle-aged, such as infections.

The authors note that the study cannot take into account certain changes within countries that could impact life expectancy, including the possibility of major political upheaval that can affect social and health care systems.

It was once assumed that there was an upper limit for the average age of life expectancy, but as medicine, public health, and science has improved, this has been pushed further and further up, and now some think that it may not even have a limit.

"This is the story of disinvestment in the social and in the health-care system that the effects of it are showing up in this simple and very powerful measure of their well-being, which is life expectancy", Ezzati said in a journal podcast about the US situation.

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