The United States has often been called a divided nation, separated by race, class, political affiliation, values — you name it. Now, one study has found that we are also drifting apart in terms of life expectancy. While the better-off can hope to live longer than ever, the rest falls behind and may even die at a younger age than their parents.
Educated, white males seem to have the edge on longevity. Conversely, the least educated and often poorest Americans — regardless of gender or race — are moving in the opposite direction. The average life expectancy for them has fallen by four years since 1990.
The disparities are most dramatic between highly educated, white men and the least-educated, black men, about 14 years, according to Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and lead author of the study report.
These widening gaps within our society have lead to “at least two Americas, if not multiple others, in terms of life expectancy, demarcated by level of education and racial-group membership,” Olshansky said.
Unhealthy lifestyles like alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, poor diets, obesity and lack of health-care coverage are among the most likely causes.
A separate study predicts that obesity, along with multiple related diseases, will continue to rise across the nation, but especially in states with the poorest populations. The report, sponsored by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), concluded that the numbers of diet-and lifestyle-related illnesses could increase tenfold by 2020 and double again by 2030.
Currently, more than 25 million Americans suffer from diabetes, 27 million from chronic heart disease, 68 million from hypertension and 50 mil-
. HEALT H, Page36