Huffington blog DARE TO BE 100
January 2, 2018
WE’RE NOT NUMBER 1
The American psyche assiduously pursues winning. “We’re number one. We’re number one”. “USA. USA”, echo loudly from our TV’s and stadia. We generally find excuses for such hyperbole, but what if we don’t win every time? What if we’re not number one?
Or 2 or 10 or even 20. In an WHO inventory of life expectancy of the industrialized nations the US comes in number 31 one ahead of Cuba.
The longevity of a nation’s population is perhaps the leading indicator of its vitality. Hong Kong’s longevity is 84 years. Japan is 83.7, Switzerland 83.4, Mexico 76.7, India 67, China 76.1. Swaziland is the last of the 200 countries reported by the WHO, and its national longevity is 49.2 years.
Two weeks ago the CDC released figures that indicate that the US life expectancy has declined for the second straight year from 78.7 to 78.6 years. While the rest of the world is living longer the US is living shorter.
This has not happened for several decades. In 1962 the flu epidemic adversely affected our statistics, in 1993 AIDS was a villain. There are 174 deaths per day or one every 8 ½ minutes. While the death rates from cancer and heart seem rather stable those attributed to Alzheimers and drug overdosage are soaring.
When the actuaries look closely at the different states, one discovers important variability. Hawaii leads the US life expectancy at 81.3 years. Colorado is 81.1 as is Minnesota, California is 80.8. Mississippi is last at 75.0 West Virginia 75.4 as is Alabama. Most observers trace this variability to differences in lifestyle. This has led some observers to conclude that despair is the number one killer as a large portion of American states reflect the stark effects of income inequality.
It is shocking to observe that the US is clearly. number one in one health statistic, cost. Yet despite the fact that we spend in some cases a multiple of that spent by most countries on healthcare our longevity data lag miserably.
We are NOT number 1 where it matters most, how long we live.
WE SPEND TOO MUCH AND LIVE TOO SHORT.