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Declining US Life Expectancy Ranking

US Life Expectancy Ranking is “at or near the bottom" of Other Developed Western Countries

In a recently published paper, Dr. Gordon Lindsay along with professors Merrill, Thackeray, and Sloan revealed that the public is largely unaware of the United States’ lower life expectancy ranking compared to other Western democracies.

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A previous report conducted by the National Institute of Medicine, showed that during the last four decades, the life expectancy ranking of Americans has dropped to last place among 16 comparison countries used in their study.

The Institute of Medicine report also showed that the life expectancy gap between the United States and these other nations is growing. Only 3% of respondents in Lindsay's national survey correctly identify that both the US life expectancy ranking was “at or near the bottom” compared to these other countries, and that the life expectancy gap was increasing.

After respondents were told of the United States declining life expectancy ranking, they were asked to explain what might be causing the poor performance by the United States. Most respondents attributed the decline to a poor American lifestyle and deficiencies in the health care system. Very few mentioned social determinants of health and built environment issues as playing a significant role in explaining the US health deficit.

“This is interesting”, Lindsay said, “because the Institute of Medicine report suggests that social determinants of health such as poverty, housing, income insecurity, education, social cohesion and early child development might explain a large part of the gap. There is a real need to educate people how social issues powerfully influence health.”

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