U.S. Life Expectancy on the Rise, but There's Room for Improvement
According to this article on MSN Health, the death rate in the United States hit an all-time low in 2009, the tenth straight year it has been on the decline. This can be attributed to the fact that ten of the major causes of death decreased significantly while life expectancy continues to rise (currently, it is 80.6 years for an American woman and 75.7 for an American man). The article points to a decrease in smoking among Americans as a major factor, as well as a decrease in deaths from heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
The findings are encouraging, but this recent article in Science News Magazine argues that our statistics are not all that impressive when compared with those of developing nations.
The United States leads the pack concerning the obesity epidemic, followed by Canada, England and Australia, but there’s a growing awareness of the causes of the problem, namely that we’re eating foods higher in calories and fat than we did in the past and we’re exercising less. In fact, Science News Magazine notes that we are among the most sedentary people in the world.
Blogs like “Eat This, Not That” aim to increase our awareness of what we’re putting in our mouths, shedding light on the high-calorie foods offered up at our favorite eateries. Should more than half of our calories come from one plate of food? Most would say “no,” but this is exactly what’s happening at many restaurants today. Our portions are out of control, and we’re encouraged to “supersize” whenever possible.
To add insult to injury, not only are we eating more, but we’re moving less. We have more technology at our disposal now than ever, from high-tech cell phones and video games, to an ever-growing number of channels to watch on television. While our society has embraced the new technology, our waistlines have increased.
With summer on the way, there will be an abundance of healthy food choices and opportunities to increase our activity levels. Take a long walk after work. Participate in a group sport. Go for a swim. It’s in our hands to make sure our life expectancy and overall healthy continues the positive trend we have seen over the last decade.