Sébastien Marchand
In a recent JAMA Internal Medicine article, researchers shared their findings showing between 1980 to 2014, the average life expectancy increased in the US.

  • From 77.5 to 81.5 years for women
  • From 70 to 76.7 years for men

However, it varies by as much as 20 years between the worst and best counties around the country.  Several counties in South and North Dakota had some of the shortest lifespans.  In contrast, counties in central Colorado, Alaska, and along the East and West coasts, had the largest increases in life expectancy. (Source, July 2017 issue)  The study’s authors recommend:

Geographic disparities in life expectancy among US counties are large and increasing. Much of the variation in life expectancy among counties can be explained by a combination of socioeconomic and race/ethnicity factors, behavioral and metabolic risk factors, and health care factors. Policy action targeting socioeconomic factors and behavioral and metabolic risk factors may help reverse the trend of increasing disparities in life expectancy in the United States.

As a counterpoint, a recent study from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany found that people who never smoked and who were not obese lived four to five years longer than the general population.  Researchers gathered data from more than 14,000 people in the United States between the ages of 50 and 89 from 1998 to 2012 to reach their conclusions.  Director of the Institute, Mikko Myrskylä, said, “Our results show how important it is to focus on prevention. Those who avoid risky health behaviours are achieving very long and healthy lives. Effective policy interventions targeting health behaviors could help larger fractions of the population to achieve the health benefits observed in this study.”




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