With rare exceptions, life expectancy has been on the rise in the US: it was 47 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and by 2019 it had risen to nearly 79 years. But it fell to 77 in 2020 and dropped further, to just over 76, in 2021. That’s the largest decrease over a two-year span since the 1920s. There are variations in life expectancy based on gender (females have a longer life expectancy than males), race, socioeconomic factors, etc.
When the data is looked at to see why life expectancy has decreased the two major factors appear to be: 1- Covid death 2- drug overdoses. In the articles I was reading about the decline in life expectancy, not one word was mentioned about the impact of the growing obesity problem in our country.
However, when you take a step back and look at one of the major reasons for the life expectancy decrease (Covid death potential) the most important risk factors (other than age) for Covid death are obesity and the associated co-morbidities such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease etc.
Forgetting about population data and looking at ourselves individually: Death is usually linked to heart disease or cancer. Both of these are co-morbidities of poor weight control. There is no doubt that shedding weight will lessen the chances of a demise from these conditions.
Personally, I am not as much focused on my quest for the number of years I live but rather, the quality of life as I advance in age. I think more in terms of “Quality of Life Expectancy” i.e. how many more years do I have of working out in the mornings, writing blogs every day, seeing our wonderful patients, having baseball catches with our grandson, having special diners with my loved ones, enjoying movies at night and everything else that I love doing? I am going to be 67 soon…do I have a QOLE of 10 more years? 15? 20?
Staying focused and steadfast in our weight control efforts will increase both the life expectancy AND the QUALITY OF LIFE expectancy. The holiday season is over….time to get down to business!
We all love to think about our past, present and future great times in our lives. Enjoy (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing.