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Study Finds Life Expectacy In Large Portions Of U.S. Are Stagnating Or Declining

“Large swaths of the United States are showing decreasing or stagnating life expectancy even as the nation’s overall longevity trend has continued upwards, according to a county-by-county study of life expectancy over two decades,” researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington note in the journal Population Health Metrics, the Washington Post reports (Brown, 6/15).

“Nationwide, life expectancy for American men and women has risen over the last two decades, and some U.S. communities still boast life expectancies as long as any in the world, according to newly released data. But over the last decade, the nation has experienced a widening gap between the most and least healthy places to live. In some parts of the United States, men and women are dying younger on average than their counterparts in nations such as Syria, Panama and Vietnam,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The study found that life expectancies for women in 737 U.S. counties out of more than 3,000, declined between 1997 and 2007 (Levey, 6/15).

“Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per capita than any other nation on health, eight out of every 10 counties are not keeping pace in terms of health outcomes. That’s a staggering statistic,” Christopher Murray, IHME director and one of the paper’s co-authors, said in an IHME press release (6/15). 

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.