Life expectancy, as the name might suggest, is how long an individual, or group of individuals is expected to live. Life expectancy varies by location, genetics, and other environmental and dietary factors. In the United States, our life expectancy has been going up with each passing generation with improvements in technology, working conditions and medicine being primarily to thank.
This being said, the United States’ life expectancy is only ranked 42th in the world according to the Central Intelligence Agency, with the top three countries being Monaco, Macau and Japan (cia.gov). This is in spite of us being one of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced superpowers. It is also being projected that for the first time, our life expectancy is going to drop. The demographic primarily affected by this drop in expectancy is white women lacking in a high school education. Some speculate this is due to rising rates of obesity, higher rates of smoking among the less educated and an increasing number of people lacking medical insurance.(Forbes.com)
The only way we can sustain, or improve our life expectancy is if we improve graduation rates among lower income communities, increase education on the dangers and impacts of smoking and most importantly, change the types of food we put into our bodies. All of this will require one of the hardest kind of change we humans can do under our own power, which is to make lifestyle changes.
The people I know who lived the longest were the ones who took care of themselves, partook in healthy, engaging activities and watched their diets. We have seen a shift over the passing decades. Less home cooked, healthy meals and more TV dinners, Ramen Noodles, and fast food replacing them in order to accommodate our more fast paced and instantaneous lifestyles. With desk jobs or computers replacing manual labor, and Netflix and virtual games replacing playing outside or family activities, we no longer have the physical activity levels of previous generations.
I believe we as Americans have been blessed with living the lifestyles we choose, so it us up to us and us only if we want to change.