Want to live a long time, Rhode Islanders? If so, new research suggests men should move to Washington County and women should head for Bristol County.
Washington County men can expect to live 78.1 years, while Bristol County women can expect to live 82.6 years, researchers at Seattle’s University of Washington report in a new study. Lives are shortest in Providence County, where men live 75.7 years, and Kent County, where women live 81 years.
Rhode Island men have increased their lifespans significantly faster than women over the past two decades, but women can still expect to live five years longer, the study showed.
Male life expectancy in the state was 76.6 years in 2007, an increase of 4.4 years since 1987, while female life expectancy was 81.6 years, an increase of 2.6 years. Until now, the most recent data available had been from 1999.
The study examined the wide health disparities that exist between Americans in different parts of the country. It cited obesity and tobacco use as among the risk factors that caused earlier deaths in places like Appalachia, the Deep South and Northern Texas as compared with the East and West Coasts or the northern Plains.
Life expectancy in some U.S. counties is only now at the same level as the healthiest countries reached in 1957:
Five counties in Mississippi have the lowest life expectancies for women, all below 74.5 years, putting them behind nations such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru. Four of those counties, along with Humphreys County, Miss., have the lowest life expectancies for men, all below 67 years, meaning they are behind Brazil, Latvia, and the Philippines.
Women live the longest in Collier, Fla., at 86 years on average, better than France, Switzerland, and Spain. Men live the longest in Fairfax County, Va., at 81.1 years, which is higher than life expectancies in Japan and Australia. Women are also living long lives in Teton, Wyoming; San Mateo and Marin, California; and Montgomery, Maryland. For men, long life spans also can be found in Marin, California; Montgomery, Maryland; Santa Clara, California; and Douglas, Colorado.
Washington County is among the places in the nation where men live the longest, ranking No. 83 out of 2,355. Providence County was lowest but still ranked No. 648. For women, top-ranked Bristol County came in at No. 78, while bottom-ranked Kent County came in at No. 531.
One of the report’s authors, Christopher Murray, offered further thoughts in an interview with Bloomberg:
He called for more investment in public-health programs and increased emphasis on primary care so doctors can catch and control high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“Eighty-five percent of counties in the U.S. are not keeping up with what’s possible for women, and 81 percent of counties in the U.S. are not keeping up for men,” Murray said in a telephone interview. He defined “what’s possible” as progress made in the top 10 countries, including Canada, Australia and Japan, in extending human lifespan. …
The institute will next track specific causes of death to the county level, Murray said. Focusing on preventable causes of death, such as tobacco use, obesity, blood pressure and modifiable parts of the diet, will help lead to improvements in life expectancy, he said.
“These are major risks that account for a huge part of the pattern we see, and for which there are known primary care or public health strategies that can be used,” Murray said.
(painting: Nicolaes Maes , via Wikipedia)