Expert says U.S. has had slow progress compared to other countries
WEDNESDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- There was no significant change in life expectancy for women in more than 1,400 counties in the United States over the last quarter century, while the same was true for men in 154 counties, a new study finds.
The highest life expectancy for men increased from 75.5 years in 1985 to 81.7 years in 2010, and the lowest life expectancy remained under 65, which ranks below Indonesia. The highest life expectancy for women increased from 81.1 years to 85 years during that time, and the lowest life expectancy remained at about 73 years, lower than Botswana.
"That's slow progress in life expectancy compared to other countries around the world, and it's especially slow for women," study author Dr. Haidong Wang, an assistant professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said in an institute news release.
Women in Marin County, Calif., live the longest, at an average of 85 years, which is longer than women in Spain and France. Women in Perry County, Ky., have the shortest average life expectancy at 72.7 years, which puts them behind women in Russia and Vietnam, according to the study, which was published online July 10 in the journal Population Health Metrics.
Other counties with the highest average life expectancy for women include: Montgomery, Md., at 84.9 years; Collier, Fla., at 84.6 years; and Santa Clara, Calif., and Fairfax, Va., at 84.5 years. Other counties with the lowest life expectancy for women include: McDowell, W. Va., at 72.9 years; Tunica and Quitman, Miss., at 73.4 years; and Petersburg, Va., at 73.7 years.
Men in Fairfax County, Va. live the longest at an average of 81.7 years, which is longer than men in Japan and Switzerland. Men in McDowell County, W. Va., have the shortest life expectancy at an average of 63.9 years, which is lower than men in Yemen and Sudan.
Other counties with the highest average life expectancy for men include: Gunnison and Pitkin, Colo., at 81.7 years; Montgomery, Md., at 81.6 years; and Marin, Calif., at 81.4 years. Other counties with the lowest life expectancy for men include: Bolivar, Miss., at 65 years; Perry, Ky., at 66.5 years; Floyd, Ky., at 66.6 years; and Tunica, Miss., at 66.7 years.
"While lack of access to health care and poor-quality health care are important factors behind life expectancy, community factors that support healthy eating and active living are also vitally important to health and well-being," Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for public health in Seattle and King County, Wash., said in the news release. "The health system across the U.S. has a critical role to play in community prevention efforts that will help people live longer and healthier lives."
The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines what you can do to maintain your health.