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Fact – where you greatly determines how healthy you will be.
A recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington determined that the life expectancy at birth differs by as much as 20 years between the lowest rated and highest rated counties surveyed in the United States.
Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray and his team studied the life expectancy of each U.S. county from 1980-2014 analyzing county-level data and applied mathematical models to estimate the average length of lives.
According to the findings, life expectancy at birth increased by 5.3 years for both men and women (from 73.8 years to 79.1 years) between 1980 and 2014. Over that time, men gained 6.7 years (going from 70 years on average to 76.7 years) while women gained four years (from 77.5 years to 81.5 years).
While these numbers are promising, they are not the same everywhere. According to the findings, there was a calculated gap of 20.1 years between the highest and lowest counties. The counties with lowest life expectancy are located in North Dakota and South Dakota (2.85% and 3.31% Latino population).
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Counties along the lower half of Mississippi, in eastern Kentucky, and southwestern West Virginia also showed lower life expectancies compared to the rest of the nation.
“At the other extreme, residents of counties in central Colorado [21.08% Latino population] can expect to live longest, Murray said in an interview with CNN.
While the study does not answer why certain areas have high or low life expectancies, it does look at overall factors that contribute to the gap between certain counties, primarily between the counties in Colorado and the Dakotas.
“For both of these geographies, the drastically different life expectancies are likely the result of a combination of risk factors, socioeconomics, and access and quality of health care in those areas,” said Murray.
Ogalala and Lakota County in South Dakota had the lowest life expectancies while Summit County in Colorado had the highest.
“Socioeconomic factors are not everything [even though] 60% of the differences in life expectancy across counties can be explained by socioeconomic factors alone,” explained Murray. “[However,] that leaves a substantial amount of unexplained differences. Behaviors like smoking and physical activity, along with risk factors like obesity and diabetes, are also very important.”
Nearly every county showed improvement over time. Counties in central Colorado, Alaska and along both coasts experienced larger increases than most other counties. However, some southern counties in states from Oklahoma to West Virginia experienced either no improvement or very little over time.
You can read the full report here.
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