Though our life expectancy is improving, our health expectancy is not. In fact we are living fewer years without serious disease and disability.
Image thanks to Old Shoe Woman.
A disturbing analysis of mortality and morbidity was recently published in the Journal of Gerontology. Are we living longer? Yes. But are those extra healthy years? No, and it’s worse than that—we’re actually living fewer healthy years than we used to.
A 20 year old woman in 1998 could expect to live about 60 more years; whereas a 20 year old in 2006 could look forward to 61 more years, so we gained a year. Great—and same with men.
That 20 year old in the 90s, though, would only live about 10 or 11 of those years with a serious disease, whereas closer to now it’s more like 12 or 13. So we live a year longer, but we come down with a serious disease like a stroke, cancer, or diabetes 2 years earlier. So it's like one step forward, 2 steps back.
They also measured one’s ability to function. In the study you were considered disabled if you “couldn’t walk a quarter mile, couldn’t walk up 10 steps, couldn’t stand or sit for two hours without having to lie down, or couldn’t stand, bend, or kneel without using special equipment.” Using those criteria, we live one year longer, but in less than just one decade we now have more years with serious disease, and more years unable to function. So we’re living longer in sickness, not in health; a longer lifespan, but shorter healthspan.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena
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