• Myles Shin

Today I Learned... About the Declining Life Expectancy in the US

The United States is supposed to be the most powerful country in the world and the forerunner of innovation. Well, that’s not exactly the case for our health. Ever since 2016, our average life expectancy has continued to drop from 78.9 to 78.6. While this does not seem like that much of a difference, it doesn’t really make sense that our life expectancy would drop, especially with the addition of new medicine and technology. In other countries, the life expectancy has continued to climb higher and higher while the US’ has stalled and even decreased. If we spend the most on healthcare out of every country then why is our life expectancy going down?

This is due to a multitude of factors. With higher rates of obesity, drug overdoses, alcohol addictions, and suicide, this is starting to make more sense. Since 1999, fatal drug overdoses in the US spiked up 386.5%. All of these other categories have spiked up significantly as well. All of these things shorten our lifespan because it increases our risk of fatal incidents and diseases, like how obesity leaves people more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.

How can we combat this? Medicine can only do so much. If people want to live longer, they have to take care of themselves, first and foremost. It is much better to have preventative care rather than treating it after the fact. People need to start working out more and being aware of what comes in and out of their bodies. In places like Japan, they have one of the highest life expectancies at 84.2 years. They have good healthcare, but, most importantly, they eat a lot more healthier than those of people in the US. When taking better care of the body, it makes it so they are less reliant on medicine, so they don’t spend as much on healthcare. The US needs to change its societal lifestyle and shift away from the McDonald’s and Burger King’s to eating healthier at home meals with vegetables and less fatty foods.


Christensen, Jen. “US Life Expectancy Is Still on the Decline. Here's Why.” CNN, Cable News Network, 26 Nov. 2019,