Today’s Americans are Living Longer than those of 10 Years Ago

November 12, 2012

Today’s Americans are Living Longer than those of 10 Years Ago

Mixed Results from the HealthyPeople initiative 2010

It has been found that Americans have extended their life expectancy by one year over the last decade. Carter R. Blakey, acting director of disease prevention and health promotion at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C. gave the news and added that the result was ‘tremendous’. Ten years ago the average American could expect to live 76.8 years, now that age is 77.8 years.

Although not all of the objectives from the HealthyPeople program were met this news indicates that, “we are doing terrific,” says Blakey. The HealthyPeople program was established in 1980 with the aim of improving Americans’ lifestyles and longevity. Over the years it has come out with different initiatives. The HealthyPeople 2010 aims targeted lifestyle to try to increase the length of our lives and enhance our quality of life and to try to provide a more equal society by eradicating any inequalities in health issues between ethnic and racial groups.

It was explained that the greater life expectancy was caused by fewer people dying from common conditions such as heart disease, HIV and cancers such as breast, colon or prostrate cancer. This is an outcome from changing our lifestyles and living healthier.

Blakey carries on to say that the HHS has had some notable successes. Of the racial inequality issues she says, “We do face persistent changes with respect to eliminating health disparities. We will continue to work on that as we move forward to Healthy People 2020″. She also pointed out that obesity and tobacco usage are major issues at the present time which are being addressed. She says, “We have made some gains in reducing the rate of tobacco use, but we still need more work”.

She then warned that, “We also need to continue to tackle diabetes and other consequences associated with obesity. Once we can solve the issue of obesity, we’ll see strides in all of the related conditions.”

Is the Obesity Epidemic Being Addressed?

Scott Kahan, MD is an obesity expert in Baltimore. He works at John Hopkins University and acknowledges that HealthyPeople 2010 did not make inroads in its attempts to decrease obesity rates. In spite of this he remains very positive about the possibility of success. He says that, “there is a silver lining in the new numbers”. He goes on to explain his reasoning by saying, “When you look at the raw numbers, we didn’t come close to meeting most of the goals for child or adult obesity over the past decade, but beneath the numbers, there is a lot to be hopeful about. During the previous decade, obesity became part of the national dialogue. “A decade ago, we weren’t talking about this”.

He points out that now everyone is talking about obesity and childhood obesity, even the President’s wife Michelle Obama. He adds that, “This is necessary before real change can occur. We are already seeing obesity rates in a number of populations level off. We can really expect to see progress over the next decade”.

Kahan expects obesity numbers to stabilize in the fullness of time before a decline will be seen but believes that things are already happening.

The White House has initiated a ‘Let’s Move’ campaign with the objective of cutting childhood obesity by promoting more exercise and healthier eating for today’s youngsters. This is one of many initiatives developed with the aim of reducing cases of childhood obesity which has trebled in the last thirty years. Today about 33% of American children are overweight or obese.

Kahan acknowledges the effect of less physical activity or exercise but directs his attention to eating habits and the food industry. He says, “The unhealthy foods are cheaper, more heavily marketed, and more widely available and accessible. And this creates the setting for our default decisions to be pretty unhealthy”. He asserts that as a society, “We need to make it easier to make healthy choices”. He finishes in an upbeat manner by saying, “I am cautiously optimistic. I have seen a lot of progress behind the scenes and we need to keep up the hard work”.

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