How long a person lives depends on which state he or she calls home, a new study suggests. While life expectancy is on the rise in the United States in general, there are some states where death rates are alarmingly high.
The state with the highest life expectancy rate is Colorado, while other states as much as 20 years less, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, The Washington Post reports.. Ali Mokdad, a professor at the university and author on the study, says,
Life expectancy in many places in this country is declining. It’s going backward instead of forward. These disparities are widening, so this gap is increasing.
People are more likely to die early if they are poor, don’t have proper access to health care, and don’t exercise, the study says. Mokdad explains that the quality and availability of health care has an important effect on this disparity. The USA needs to look into how its medical care is made accessible to people, with an emphasis on prevention and a fuller approach towards healthy communities.
This new study adds to the growing body of research that shows how the country is failing to keep up with the standards that are making people live longer in other countries. In 2013, researchers said there was a “health disadvantage” in the US compared to similar developed nations, and more recent studies have examined the growing trend of “diseases of despair.”
Mokdad says countries like Australia are way ahead in terms of preventive care and stopping harmful behaviors like smoking. He adds, “We are falling behind our competitors in health. That is going to impact our productivity; that’s going to take away our competitive edge when it comes to the economy. What we’re doing right now is not working. We have to regroup.”
Researchers at the The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation looked at death certificates from 1980to 2014. The places with the most increases in life expectancy in that time period are the District of Columbia and Loudoun County in Virginia. Fairfax County has the lowest all-cause death rate in the Washington region – lower than the national average. The report has a map of county by county death rates.
The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.