Life Expectancy To Soar – But Not In The U.S.

The life expectancy has actually declined for the first time in 20 years in the U.S. It has dropped from 76.5 in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015 for men and from 81.3 to 81.2 for women.  On the average American women now die about one month earlier than they did in 2014 and men have lost about two months of their lifespan.  There were 86,212 more deaths in 2015 compared to 2014.  The U.S., as of 2015, ranks 29th out of 43 countries for life expectancy.  In 2014 the U.S. ranked 28th.

Dr. Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reports that this decline is a uniquely American phenomenon and no other developed countries have experienced this decline.

The lead author, Dr. Jiaquan Xu, noted the decline is primarily caused by a rise in several categories of preventable deaths.  The failure of the American health care system to properly address the root causes of chronic disease being the main one.  South Korea has made some of the greatest life expectancy gains with their dietary patterns and health care availability, which Americans need to change in the U.S.

One extensive analysis of longevity patterns in 35 industrialized nations projects life expectancy at birth in the U.S. will continue to decrease and that it will be on par with the Czech Republic, Croatia and Mexico by 2030.  Both sexes of South Korea and Hungarian men have made the greatest life expectancy gains.  South Korean women are projected to have an average lifespan of 90.8 by 2030, making this the first nation to break the 90-year life barrier.  They ranked 29th in 1985, so this is a significant feat for Korea.

Longevity has always been noted in Japan for its longevity, but that is starting to change as the Western dietary influences have crept in.  South Korea’s use of nutritional supplements and probiotics for both adults and infants has risen and their fermented food and omega-3 intake is among the highest in the world.  Canadians, along with the Americans, have very low levels that may increase the risk of chronic disease.  In Korea the use of vitamins and dietary supplements rose by 4% in 2016 and probiotic sales rose by 7%.

Most Americans eat a primarily processed food diet that is high in sugars and low in healthy fats, fiber and fermented foods, so this shouldn’t come as a major shock that our life expectancy would suffer.

The U.S. chronic illness and opioid addiction is taking a toll on Americans.  Health care costs in the U.S. are also the highest in the world and continue to rise.  Half of all Americans live with chronic illness that has virtually everything to do with our diet.

Statistics show that ½ of the American diet is ultra junk food and the parallel statistics are:

  • Half of the Americans are chronically ill
  • Half of the Americans are either pre-diabetic or diabetic
  • Almost 60% of the American diet is Ultra-processed junk food and account for 90% of the added sugar consumption in the U.S.
  • At least 40% of American health care expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar
  • Less than 1% of daily calories comes from vegetables

The danger of eating too much added sugar has been well established and recognized.  U.S. dietary guidelines recommend limiting sugar intake to a maximum of 10% of the daily calories.  This should be at the top of the list for overweight, insulin resistant individuals or those struggling with any chronic disease. Reclaiming our health in the U.S. is not rocket science.  The American health care is grossly lacking in common sense disease prevention and the Affordable Health Care Act did not have a positive influence.  Significant improvements made by countries like South Korea should offer hope to the U.S. people.

Dr Fredda Branyon