The life expectancy of Americans has gone up. We’ve risen to a predicted age of almost 78 years according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. So we’re doing good–right?
MSN’s answer: wrong.
The CIA Factbook lets us see where the United States stands in life expectancy versus other countries. Surely one of the world’s leaders in healthcare should be in the top ten.
No such luck.
So we’re in the top twenty, right? Wrong again.
The United States is the 50th in a lineup of 224 countries for life expectancy. One of the sister countries in progression, Japan, is 3rd.
Why’s this important? The CIA defines the reason this is so important: “Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarizes the mortality at all ages. It can also be thought of as indicating the potential return on investment in human capital and is necessary for the calculation of various actuarial measures.”
Okay, so life expectancy measures the investment on human capital. Why is Japan 3rd and the United State’s 50th? You could take it into the political arena and argue that there’s an issue with our health care system, or you could consider it on an individual basis. How healthy of a country are we, exactly? Do you, as an American, do the following:
- Focus on omega-3 fatty acids (add salmon and flaxseed to my grocery list)
- Get back on track with 30 minutes of exercise each day
- Watch out for trans fats (known to raise LDLs)
If you answered “yes” for all three, you’re in the minority. A healthy lifestyle is key for the increase in life expectancy, and yet for Americans, a healthy lifestyle is on the bottom of our agenda, right under: succeed at a high-paying career; get a college degree; and go on a vacation.