U.S. Life Expectancy Low Due to Obesity Epidemic

Susan Szulc, MD

There was recently an article published in American Medical News that ranked 17 high-income countries according to life expectancy and health status.

Where did the US come in?

American males ranked last and American females ranked 16th of 17. Our average male life expectancy was 75.64 years. Switzerland came in first for males, averaging 79.33 years.  American females live about 80.78 years, compared to Japanese females living about 5 years longer (85.98 years).

This health disadvantage among Americans was consistent despite age, differences in education and medical insurance.  We have higher rates of disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, STDs and HIV/AIDS.  We also have comparatively high rates of and injury/homicide and drug-related deaths.

What’s to blame?

Obesity is likely a factor.  In this report, the US had the highest childhood obesity rate, with over 35% of children being overweight or obese.  American adults also had the highest average BMI.  Not surprisingly, we also had the highest rate of diabetes.  Obesity is a complex problem, caused by a number of factors.  Portion size, society norms, economic status, education, lack of exercise and a heavy reliance on automobiles all play a role.

We need to recognize obesity as a medical epidemic and start taking our weight seriously.  Talk to your primary care physician about your BMI and what you can do to get to a healthier weight.

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About Dr. Susan Szulc
Susan V. Szulc, MD, is a board-certified internist with Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Szulc earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., where she also completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Szulc is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and American Medical Women’s Association. Dr. Szulc’s special interests include palliative care and hypertension.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Szulc please call (757) 305-1797!

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