Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life expectancy declines in some rural areas

Rural counties had the biggest declines of life expectancy, and the shortest life spans, from 1985 to 2010, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Overall, the report found that life expectancy in the U.S. rose from 75.2 to 78.2 years, but some rural counties were well below those numbers. The report also found that while more Americans are living longer, they are also living longer with disabilities related to poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, drinking, high blood pressure, and other health issues. (The chart is by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, but the Daily Yonder added yellow to highlight non-metro counties)

Nine of the 10 counties with the biggest declines in life expectancy for females were rural, while only three of the top 10 for biggest increases in life expectancy were rural, Tim Marema and Shawn Poynter report for the Daily Yonder. Seven of 10 counties that had the biggest decline for men were rural, while no rural county cracked the top 10 for biggest increase of life expectancy for males.

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Fayette County, Alabama, had the worst decline of any U.S. county, with life expectancy for women dropping by 3.47 years, while Perry County, Kentucky, which was 10th with a drop of 2.57 years, had the lowest overall life expectancy for women, at 72.65 years, reports the Yonder. Leslie and Clay counties, just to the west of Perry, and five counties in Oklahoma -- Harmon, Beckham, Seminole, Murray and Garvin -- also made the list of 10 worst counties for female expectancy. Gunnison and Pitkin counties in Colorado tied for fifth with the biggest increase of life expectancy for women, at 6.28 years, with women in those counties living to an average age of 84.33 years. Beaufort County, S.C. was 10th with an increase of 6.02 years.The counties are popular with retirees. Gunnison and Pitkin tied for second highest life expectancy among men, at 81.65 years.

Floyd County, Kentucky, had the worst drop in life expectancy for males, at 1.49 years, while McDowell County, West Virginia, had the lowest average life expectancy at 63.9 years, the Yonder reports. Also making the bottom 10 were Wyoming County, W. Va., along with Bolivar County, Mississippi, Perry County, Alabama, Cherokee County, Kansas, and Grundy County, Tennessee. No rural counties made the top 10 for increases in life expectancy. (Read more)

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