If the health and well-being of a country’s people is a tangible sign of its success, the United States isn’t doing so hot, according to a recent study published in The Lancet about life-expectancy around the globe.
The researchers from Imperial College London, the World Health Organization, Northumbria University and the University of Washington are predicting that in 2030, the country with the highest life expectancy for women will be South Korea — with a 90 percent probability that it will be higher than 86.7 years and a 57 percent probability that it will be higher than 90 years — followed by France, Japan and Spain.
For men, the three countries with the highest life expectancy are South Korea, Australia and Switzerland. There is a 95 percent probability that life expectancy will be higher than 80 years and a 27 percent probability that it will exceed 85 years in those countries.
South Korea landed in the top spot because of factors such as improved childhood and adolescent nutrition, advances in medical technologies and access to healthcare. The high standing comes from having “maintained lower body-mass index and blood pressure than most western countries, and lower smoking in women.”
The study described the United States as having a life expectancy at birth that is “lower than most other high-income countries, and is projected to fall further behind. … The USA has the highest child and maternal mortality, homicide rate, and body-mass index of any high-income country, and was the first of high-income countries to experience a halt or possibly reversal of increase in height in adulthood, which is associated with higher longevity.”
The researchers noted that the United States is the only member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that does not have “universal health coverage, and has the largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs.” They also note that the country’s anticipated standing in the future stems from “high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care.”