According to a new report from the Center for Disease Control, U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high; now standing at 77.9 years for a baby born today, which is a year and a half more than a baby born 10 years ago.
Women are still living longer than men, but the gap is narrowing. Women now have a life expectancy of 80.4 years and men have a life expectancy of 75.3 years. That’s down from a difference of 5.4 years in 2002 and continues a steady decline from a peak difference of 7.8 years in 1979.
The increase in life expectacy is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. The CDC report found that the number of deaths and the overall death rate dropped from 2006 — to about 760 deaths per 100,000 people from about 776. The death rate has been falling for eight straight years, and is half of what it was 60 years ago.
Heart disease and cancer together are the cause of nearly half of U.S. fatalities. The death rate from heart disease dropped nearly 5 percent in 2007, and the cancer death rate fell nearly 2 percent, according to the report. The HIV death rate dropped 10 percent, the biggest one-year decline in 10 years.
This might sound promising, that is until you compare the numbers to other countries. The United States continues to lag behind about 30 other countries in estimated life span. Japan has the longest life expectancy — 83 years for children born in 2007, according to the World Health Organization.
Americans spend more on health care than any other country yet we don’t make the top 20 in life expectancy. That’s because we need to make lifestyle changes with healthier eating habits and diet to help improve survival rates and quality of life in the U.S.