Zipcode Lifespan
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zipcode Even though Americans are living longer than ever, not all of us are because where you live can actually determine your lifespan. If you were born in two thousand fourteen, a recent report suggests your life expectancy will be seventy-nine years. This is up six years from nineteen-eighty and a huge improvement from nineteen fifty when people could expect to live to age sixty-eight.

But not everyone is benefiting. Consider that if you live in Oglala Dakota County, South Dakota you can expect a lifespan of just sixty-six years. Shorter life spans are also found in western Mississippi, parts of Alabama, North and South Dakota, eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia. Native American territories in the Dakotas may have the shortest lifespans. But, if you live in central Colorado, you are in the epicenter of long living: 86 years. The same is found in certain counties of Alaska, New York, Florida and Virginia.

So what explains these differences? First, socioeconomic factors play a major role, such as race, education and income. Access to healthcare also. However, this study emphasizes that three quarters of the factors that influence longevity are also classified as behavioral and metabolic.

What does this mean? They’re controllable. Leading the list are obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and diabetes. Drug addiction is a factor as well.

So the good news is you do not have to move to Colorado to have a long life. With the right choices and a little luck, you too can join the longevity club.

For more information…

Widening Gap in U.S. Life Expectancy
Americans are living longer than ever before, thanks in large part to NIH-supported research. But a new, heavily publicized study shows that recent gains in longevity aren’t being enjoyed equally in all corners of the United States...

Inequalities in Life Expectancy Among US Counties, 1980 to 2014
Examining life expectancy by county allows for tracking geographic disparities over time and assessing factors related to these disparities. This information is potentially useful for policy makers, clinicians, and researchers seeking to reduce disparities and increase longevity...