Experts have been trying to figure out why the United States does not measure up to other countries in terms of life expectancy – despite the fact that it spends more per capita on health care, and has a population that is relatively wealthy and well-nourished. A feature by Reuters shared a report that explained why.
A report from the National Research Council, which was released on Tuesday, identified smoking as the major factor behind the disparity in lifespan between Americans and citizens of other countries. The panel of experts also mentioned the following in their report: “Other factors, such as obesity, diet, exercise, and economic inequality, also have likely played a role in the current gap and divergence between the United States and other countries.”
Ranked 1st in terms of life expectancy is Japan; the United Nations said that a child born today will most probably live to be 83, on average. The United States, on the other hand, is ranked 36th, with a life expectancy of 78.3.
While it may be true that the number of Americans who smoke has declined over the years, in 1960, more than 40 percent of American adults smoked. The experts wrote further that smoking was more widespread in the United States fifty years ago, when compared to other countries; there were more Americans who were smokers, and who “smoked more intensively” during that time, according to the experts.
“The health consequences of this behavior are still playing out in today’s mortality rates,” they added.
Things are likely to improve, however, given the fact that smoking rates have dropped.