Pockets of poor health

Life expectancy decreases in some locations

10:05am, April 25, 2008

Since the early 1960s, average life expectancy in the United States has grown steadily. But this overall gain has disguised the fact that in some locales the upward trend stalled in the 1980s and 1990s, a new study finds. Women in particular have lost momentum. In 180 U.S. counties, their life expectancy decreased during those decades.

“The fact that the health of a pretty large part of the population is stagnating or getting worse is a pretty unusual thing,” says study coauthor Majid Ezzati, a population researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. It’s a trend that runs counter to other Western countries, he says.

Women still live longer than men. From 1961 to 1999, the average life expectancy for men in the United States increased from 67 to 74 years. For women, it grew from 74 to 80 years.

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