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86,212 more people died in the Unites States in 2015 than in 2014, an increase of 0.1/year. This means that life expectancy for Americans aged 25 to 85 is getting shorter by about 6 months. While these numbers might seem small they are not insignificant because they follow a troubling trend for American life expectancy which, over the past three years, remained static while other developed countries life expectancy rates increased. This coupled with the knowledge that deaths due to heart disease increased and that diseases or illnesses related to heart disease, such as diabetes and obesity, are increasing steadily is cause for concern.

Decreased life expectancy graph

Ten Leading Causes of Death, 2015

1 Graph courtesy of the CDC

This decrease in life expectancy cannot be specifically attributed to any one cause of death because that is simply too hard to quantify. The CDC research found that while the ten leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide) remained the same, they all experienced an incremental increase including a notable increase in heart disease (of 0.9%) and diabetes (of 1.9%) 1. Also notably was the 1.7% decrease in loss of life to cancer, which the CDC attributes to medical advancements, and population education, in both cancer diagnosis and treatment. The next step may be to take the same initiatives and apply them countering obesity and diabetes in order to help prevent further decreased life expectancy due to heart disease.

Indeed, over the past 30 years, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes has increased from 5.5 million to 22 million, and the estimated number of people with undiagnosed or pre-diabetes is as many as 50% of Americans today 2. The spread of obesity and diabetes has increased exponentially over the past few years, and if this has started effecting life expectancy, then we can project a continued to decline in length of life.


You can read the original research here:

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Research on diabetes here:

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