A new study published Tuesday in JAMA has found that the life expectancy of Americans has lagged behind similar nations and there has been a long-spanning crisis in the United States for decades.
Researchers found that in the last 10 years, many young and middle-aged Americans have been dying – thanks to increasing rates of suicide, chronic medical conditions, and drug overdoses.
Life expectancy is the average period that a person may expect to live in a given country. The higher it is – the less people are dying in a given country from preventable medical conditions. And in the United States, the average life expectancy has declined in recent years.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American life expectancy at birth for those who are born in 2017 was 78.6 years, which is the third straight annual decrease.
The researchers decided to dig deep into the life expectancy and mortality trends, starting from 1959.
They found that Americans have actually been living longer over the years. For instance, in 1959, the American life expectancy rate was 69.9 years. However, in the 1990s, the rates started to go down when compared with people in similarly developed nations, and by 2010, it started to stagnate.
The study found that this stagnation and eventual declination in the rate of life expectancy was associated with people between the ages of 25 and 64. It also found that the overall mortality rate increased by more than six percent from 2010 to 2017.
Lead study author Steven Woolf told The Washington Post, “It’s supposed to be going down, as it is in other countries. The fact that that number is climbing, there’s something terribly wrong.”
The increased rates of suicide and drug overdoses have been contributing to lowering the US life expectancy rate in recent years. Not only that, but an increase in obesity rate has also been playing a role in decreasing the American life expectancy rate because obesity increase the risk of chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Considering the current findings, the researchers theorized that working-age Americans have been going to despair due to lack of purpose, financial burden, and loss of community. They also noted that expensive medical care and healthcare system in the United States has also been contributing to lower life expectancy.