Scientists map widening gap in longevity

Life expectancy map
This chart maps the lows and the highs in average life expectancy as of 2014. (Dwyer-Lindgren et al., UW / IHME via JAMA Internal Medicine)

A county-by-county survey of U.S. life expectancy reports a 20-year gap between the lows and the highs – a gap that correlates with socioeconomic factors, race and ethnicity, and the availability of health care as well as preventable risk factors such as obesity and smoking.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that the gap is widening.

“This is way worse than any of us had assumed,” UW professor Ali Mokdad, who leads U.S. county health research at the institute, told The Guardian.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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