American lifespan shorter than other developed countries

By: Emily Lunardo | Health News | Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 12:10 PM

american-lifespan-shorter-than-older-developed-countriesAmericans are living shorter than other people in developed countries largely due to an increase in car accidents, shootings, and drug overdoses. These incidences result in over 100,000 deaths annually.

On average, Americans live two years shorter than people in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Lead researcher Andrew Fenelon said, “About 50 percent of the gap for men and about 20 percent for women is due just to those three causes of injury.”

Shootings, car accidents, and drug overdoses account for four percent of deaths in America, and even though this may not seem significant, they still play a large role in the overall life expectancy. Fenelon added, “When young people die, they lose many more years of life than older people, so the things that kill younger people may be more important for life expectancy.”

To conduct their study, researchers examined data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System and the World Health Organization Mortality Database. They calculated death by age, gender, and cause for America and 12 comparative countries.

Dr. David Katz, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine added, “We have long had clear evidence that life expectancy in the U.S. lags behind many of our peer countries around the world, and here we are told why. There are ongoing efforts, in both law enforcement and engineering, to reduce the toll of car crashes. The nation is slowly, but inexorably, directing more attention to the crisis of drug abuse. Whether or not the cold, hard calculus of epidemiology is enough to provoke meaningful action related to guns remains to be seen.”


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