"we have to share this with our Eat REAL America community!"
It triggered all kinds of interesting discussions among our family and friends, and we would love to know your thoughts and reaction!
And, why isn't the same trend being seen in other countries? How have countries like Portugal and Poland, who had shorter life expectancies than the U.S. just a few years ago, caught up and even now surpassed the United States?
Is the lesson here that we should pack up and move to Japan? The good news is you don't need to move to another country for a long and healthy life, although you may recall from our coaching tip "Breaking 100!" that Okinawa, Japan is one of the Blue Zones, or regions where they found the highest percentage of people who live to 100 (and where there is a much lower percentage of people with chronic disease - remember, it's not just dying you should worry about).
Could this be because other countries are spending more on healthcare than the U.S.? Interesting...
This graph shows that the U.S. has the highest healthcare spending of any other country in the world, yet our average life expectancy is shorter than so many other countries.
And, while there is a consistent trend of increasing spending on healthcare, other countries are seeing their lifespans go up (the return on their investment), while the U.S. lifespan has gone sideways - and even decreased - for several years.
There are endless opinions about the U.S. healthcare system and why the results are what they are. We saw comments attributing this to a focus on treating illness and disease vs. keeping people healthy, lifestyle choices and the prevalence of highly-processed foods, and even a view that healthcare providers are not equipped to address food and nutrition as part of their patient treatment plans.
In discussions about this graph, many latched on to the very insightful quote attributed to Wendell Berry, "People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food."
And, one interesting comment was, "Diet, exercise and community have a lot to do with it. Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger."
You may remember our coaching tip, "The Other Pandemic?" where we mentioned that poor diets are responsible for over 500,000 deaths every year. In that coaching tip, we wondered out loud what we could achieve if we used the same energy and resources dealing with the Covid pandemic to tackle the "poor diet pandemic" that is causing hundreds of thousands of deaths EVERY YEAR.
There is one more graph we wanted to share...this shows actual causes of death vs. Google searches and media coverage:
As you can see, there is a huge disconnect between what we see in the news and reality.
Almost one-third of deaths in the U.S. resulted from heart disease, but this accounted for only 2% to 3% of Google searches and media coverage. Interestingly, in general, Google searches are much more closely related to actual causes of death vs. the media. Terrorism, homicide and suicide get A LOT of attention in the media (> 67%), yet are responsible for less than 3% of fatalities.
We will let your imagination guide you about some of the comments we saw relating to this information!
Hint: it has a lot to do with incentives for the media to make money vs. objectively reporting the facts and helping us to achieve our ultimate goal of living a long, healthy and happy life.
So, where is the Good News?
Remember, these life expectancy numbers are averages, and with the right lifestyle choices, you can improve your odds of dramatically beating these averages to live a LONG, HEALTHY and FULFILLING life! Without moving to Japan! For a fun and entertaining way to estimate your life expectancy (including how many healthy years you may have left), check out our coaching tip "Do You Know How Many Years You Have Left?".
We have so many coaching tips to help keep you inspired and on track...here are just a few that might be helpful:
What is your reaction to this information?
Do you have a theory on why the U.S. is falling behind so many other countries in terms of our years of life, and especially healthy years of life?