Americans Dying Earlier than Europeans, Reveals Study
Unlike in the past when Americans lived longer than Europeans, today rich European nations have built an 18-month gap in longevity of lifespan. US researchers blame obesity and smoking for this development.
The scientists are optimistic that curbing unhealthy behaviors can improve the average American’s life expectancy in the future and also reduce health care expenses.
A century ago, saving babies improved mortality rates. Today, life expectancy is improved by helping seniors live longer as the focus has shifted away from the young. These findings have been published in last month’s issue of Social Science and Medicine.
The researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, RAND Corp. and USC compared the lifespan of citizens in the US and those in European countries including Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Germany, France and Denmark.
The researchers opine the gap in lifespan can be reduced by tackling obesity and related diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. These improvements can also benefit the US economically as they would reduce the health care costs of an average American by more than $17,700.
Health improvements will continue to have a bigger impact economically as the years roll by. The researchers calculate that by the year 2050, health improvements can lead to savings of more than $1.1 trillion, with Medicaid and Medicare racking up savings of about $632 billion.