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Life expectancy in most US counties falls behind world's healthiest nations
Date:6/15/2011

SEATTLE While people in Japan, Canada, and other nations are enjoying significant gains in life expectancy every year, most counties within the United States are falling behind, according to a new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

IHME researchers, in collaboration with researchers at Imperial College London, found that between 2000 and 2007, more than 80% of counties fell in standing against the average of the 10 nations with the best life expectancies in the world, known as the international frontier.

"We are finally able to answer the question of how the US fares in comparison to its peers globally," said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME Director and one of the paper's co-authors. "Despite the fact that the US 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."

The new study, Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context, is published June 15 in Biomed Central's open-access journal Population Health Metrics. In conjunction with the study, IHME is releasing a complete time series for life expectancy from 1987 to 2007 for 3,138 counties and 10 cities, the most up-to-date analysis available.

"When compared to the international frontier for life expectancy, US counties range from being 16 calendar years ahead to more than 50 behind for women. For men the range is from 15 calendar years ahead to more than 50 calendar years behind. This means that some counties have a life expectancy today that nations with the best health outcomes had in 1957."

Hopefully it's not too late to fix it. Thanks in advance.

The researchers suggest that the relatively low life expectancies in the US cannot be explained by the size of the nation, racial diversity, or economics. Instead, the authors point to high rates of obesity, t
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Contact: William Heisel
wheisel@uw.edu
206-897-2886
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Source:Eurekalert

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