How long do you want to live?
It may seem an odd question, but... You may very well be the only person who can determine the answer. In a disturbing report, from Harvard University and the University of Washington, researchers find that certain segments of the population are now living shorter lives. This is virtually unheard of in advanced countries, where life expectancies naturally increase with advances in health care.
But, being the world leader in all-things-convenient and all-things-tasty-but-unhealthy, the United States also leads the way in preventable disease. Sure, we have terrific ways to treat obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. We just haven't found a way, as a society, to bite the bullet and lead the healthy lives that would avoid theses diseases in the first place.
"There is now evidence that there are large parts of the population in the United States whose health has been getting worse for about two decades," said Majid Ezzati, lead author of the study.
The scientists found that overall the life expectancies of Americans continue to increase. But, for about 26 million women the news is not so good. Starting in the 1980s, when women really got into the swing of bad living with their male counterparts, they too began to reap the rewards. Smoking, obesity and diabetes exact a heavy price and, for the first time since the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, about 19% of women are experiencing stagnant or even shortened life spans.
What's to be done? Well, it appears a partnership is in order between public policy and private behavior. Public health policies must be enacted that assure access to health care for all individuals, and they must emphasize prevention. But, even with better access to health care, people must step up and do their part. That, of course, means better exercise, no smoking, and better diets.
So, back to that original question - how long do you want to live? Think about it...To read more about the study, see this from Harvard University. For some simples ideas on living a healthier life, see this from CommonSenseHealth.com.