It was reported in the news this week that life expectancy rose in the United States for the first time in four years. We witnessed a troubling trend in the age adjusted death rate and life expectancy over the past four years. For the first time in history the United States, the current generation was not expected to live longer than their parents. Prior to that, life expectancy has increased by nearly 10 years over the last half century.￼￼
Looking at the map above, one of the major causes of mortality becomes clear. The shorter life expectancy’s correlate with decreased physical activity and increased obesity in the states above.
Interestingly, the death rate from influenza and pneumonia increased in 2018 as well as, unfortunately, suicide.￼￼￼￼ Fortunately, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving heroin opioids and methadone were lower in 2018.￼
In my mind, this constitutes a public health crisis. With all we know, our life expectancies should be continuing to rise. Unfortunately, about 80% of adults still do not meet physical activity guidelines and 71% of us are overweight or obese.
Dr. Howard Koh at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health wrote that “Health starts with where you live, labor, learn, play and pray.”. “What that means is that we need to embed a culture of health through all sectors of society.”. We as physicians can make a great impact but the health of a community is up to all of us.￼￼