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US life expectancy is headed the wrong direction

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  • Staff Report 

A recent study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health reveals a startling life expectancy trend in the US, suggesting the nation has been disadvantaged in terms of life expectancy since the 1950s.

The study, highlighting a decline that is both older and more extensive than previously realized, shows that over 50 countries have surpassed US life expectancy since the 1930s. Study author Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, indicates that this new perspective could provide insight on how to address the issue.

The research uncovers that after substantial improvements in the early 20th century due to public health advancements, US life expectancy growth began to decline in 1955.

It fell from being 12th highest in the world during the 1950s to 29th by 1968, an earlier decline than previously considered. The study found that the life expectancy growth rate briefly recovered in 1974 before decelerating again in 1983. Preliminary data from 2021 reveals US life expectancy has dropped to the lowest level since 1996, at 76.1 years.

The findings suggest that policy decisions and systemic factors play significant roles in health outcomes and life expectancy, overshadowing individual health choices.