Are Americans Doomed to Live Shorter Lives?

If Americans spend more on medical care than any nation on earth, why don’t we live longer?

Life expectancy at birth, by sex: United States, 2000-2021 (CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality)

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Part of the American dream is that each generation will do better than the one preceding it. Parents always hope their children will be smarter, richer, and healthier than themselves.

But in recent years that seems less likely. For one thing, they won’t all be richer. Of all the 30-year-old Americans in the work force, only half are earning more than their parents did at the same age.

And the rising generation may not live as long as their predecessors. In 2020 the life expectancy for Americans was shortened by 1.8 years, according to the Center for Disease Control. And in 2021, it lost almost another entire year.

A baby born in the U.S. in 2020 has an expected lifespan of 77.3 years. An average Japanese baby can anticipate living 84.5 years.

In a ranking of 40 nations by their life expectancy by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, America came in 28th.

A million COVID deaths in the U.S. have contributed to the decline in our predicted lifespan. But the CDC says that the coronavirus accounts for only three quarters of the decline. Eleven percent of the loss was attributed to accidents and drugs deaths, 4 percent to homicide, 2.5 percent to diabetes, and 2.3 percent to alcohol-related liver disease.

We are also dealing with some health risks that are more common in the U.S. Seventy percent of Americans are overweight, and 36 percent are obese, a condition that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Around 40,000 Americans die every year in automotive accidents. (There are 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S., which is notably better than the global average of 18.2.)

Life expectancy in the U.S. is also affected by infant mortality, which is high for a developed country. For every 1,000 live births in the United States, 5.4 infants die. In comparison, the number in Germany is 3.1. In the Czech Republic, 2.3. And in Norway, 1.8.

The U.S. also has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. The rise has many causes: childbirth at later ages, higher incidence of unplanned pregnancies, increased rate of caesarian section deliveries, and many mothers without insurance (America being the only country in the developed world without universal healthcare; almost 10 percent of Americans have no health coverage).

Taken altogether, the data offers a depressing picture of America’s future. But the idea that Americans’ lives will get continually shorter presumes the U.S. will follow a different course than it took from 1900, when the average American lived just 47 years.

In that year, health conditions were much worse. Americans lived with polluted skies, water, and food. City streets stank of rotting garbage, horse manure, and sewage from inadequate sewer systems. Lack of sanitation and limited effective medicine led to thousands dying from diseases like whooping cough, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and measles.

Since 1900, health and safety laws, improved food processing, effective water and sewage technology, and modern medicines expanded the average life span by 30 years.

These changes came about because of the work of scientists, reformers, legislators, journalists, and many other people. People like Sara Josephine Baker, a physician who worked to reduce infant mortality in New York’s slums. She taught mothers how to better care for their infants and developed a nutritional formula. And she tracked down and caught Typhoid Mary — twice.

People like social worker Jane Addams, who led a campaign in Chicago to remove disease-breeding debris from the streets.

People like novelist Upton Sinclair, whose book The Jungle started a public outcry against unsanitary working conditions and the exploitation of women and children in the meat packing business, and led to the federal Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act.

People like Drs. Grace Eldering and Pearl Kendrick of the Michigan Department of Health, who, in their free time, collected specimens and isolated bacteria to develop a vaccine for whooping cough.

People like Nathan Straus, part-owner of Macy’s department store. Learning that milk from tubercular cows was infecting children in New York, he set up “depots” where milk was pasteurized and sold to poor families below cost.

America’s public health problems today seem as difficult to address as smallpox and tuberculosis once were. But, just as then, hardworking, inventive, compassionate Americans will not stop looking for solutions and cures.

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Comments

  1. Corporate America and ‘Big Pharma’ have long worked hand in hand in a “you get them sick. and we’ll make them better—as long as they’re on our prescriptions”, dynamic. Of course the patients really don’t get better at all, because modern medicine isn’t about getting to the root of the problem at all; just masking it.

    Fortunately there are alternative, natural healing doctors whose goals ARE to get to the root of the problem and fix it naturally. Their modalities include iridology, kinesiology and blood work (via finger pin prick) for a very full picture of what’s going on. What’s good, not so good, and how to fix the latter with high grade all-natural supplements both liquid and capsule. Traditional western meds only if need be

    Mike who commented before me, makes excellent points. If the patient can’t or won’t communicate with the doctor, they probably aren’t taking proper care of their bodies either, which will reduce their lifespans.

    There are so many pieces to the pie chart of shorter lives in this country, it’s horrifying. Non-stop stress: Am I going to get shot just going about doing my errands or going to a concert? Knowing your own government is one big Party working against you, only loyal to the military industrial complex, big pharma and whoever else is lining their pockets.

    The food industry, putting in addictive additives like unnecessary salt and sugar that will make you sick, where you’ll be put on prescriptions to keep the patient in a netherworld of neither being sick nor well. Constant overstimulation saturation via movies, video games, drinks like Monster, Rock Star and many others. The addiction to coffee ’round the clock. Lack of sleep. Americans will pay lip service sleep is important if directly asked, but a large percentage don’t. Those who do are properly recharging their minds and bodies for the next day.

    The dairy/cheese industry. Fast food is their main way of getting their cheese into your body, making Americans overweight, skyrocketing cholesterol, risk of heart attack and much more. But big pharma has drugs (with scary side effects) for that.

    People are so brainwashed about cheese, it’s absurd. You never even hear the term ‘hamburger’ at all anymore. No it’s been completely replaced with ‘cheeseburger’. The fact the former isn’t even offered anymore (unless specially ordered) says it all. It’s not as though this melty, gooey crap is making the burger taste better. It’s there because Americans have been ‘trained’ it’s not ‘complete’ without it.

    Unprecedented fears combined with hopelessness, bad diet, lack of exercise and sleep are all huge contributors. The intentional, man-made COVID has been one of the first major steps in a diabolical plan of population control and extermination. These powerful billionaires have been buying up the farmlands here and internationally for their next stages of manipulations leading to shorter lives.

  2. Industrialized ‘health’care, people expecting doctors to fix what’s wrong with them when the patient can’t communicate with the doctor, and people that just won’t care for their own body.

    I believe those are the three greatest influences on the reduction of expected average lifespan.

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