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“Lifespan Slowing Increasing in America”

Recently, researchers predicted that by 2040, people the world over will be living longer. In extreme cases, such as Syria and Nigeria, the researchers projected life expectancy to increase by as many as 10 years. But in the United States, they estimated that it will rise by only 1.1 year—putting the United States in the bottom five of all countries in terms of life expectancy growth by 2040. In 2016, the United States ranked 43rd among all nations’ life expectancies, with an average lifespan of 78.7 years. But in 2040, life expectancy in the United States is forecast to be only 79.8 years, falling to a rank of 64th among all nations—the biggest drop in rank among high-income countries. China ranked 68th in 2016, with an average life expectancy of 76.3 years. But if trends continue through 2040, China could rise to a rank of 39th, with an average life expectancy of 81.9 years—a 5.6-year increase in lifespan. So, what is holding us back? Researchers anticipate a coming shift in premature death from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and lung cancer and problems related to obesity. However, people can still learn to make changes to avoid these outcomes. For example, one bright spot for the United States was that it was one of only 20 countries that reduced the population’s risk of exposure to tobacco faster than 2% between 1990 and 2016. The future of the world’s health is not preordained. Experts say that the top three health drivers behind the future trajectory for early death will be metabolic factors—high blood pressure, high body mass index, and high blood sugar.

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