TechLife expectancy is set to rise globally but with more years of poor health

Life expectancy is set to rise globally but with more years of poor health

The length of our lives will increase
The length of our lives will increase
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8:21 AM EDT, May 21, 2024

According to the latest forecasts published in "The Lancet," between 2022 and 2050, the average life expectancy worldwide is expected to increase by 4.9 years for men and 4.2 years for women. This optimistic prediction comes despite threats like geopolitical conflicts, metabolic problems, and environmental issues. Although people will live longer, most of these additional years may be spent in poor health.

The study authors predict that the most significant increase in average life expectancy will occur in countries where it is currently the lowest. This improvement could help balance life expectancy indicators across various geographic areas. A significant driver of this trend will be public health initiatives aimed at preventing cardiovascular diseases, COVID-19, and other infectious diseases, as well as maternal and neonatal health problems, and through nutritional education.

Our life expectancy will increase

The study, which covered 204 countries and regions, suggests that the health burden related to infectious diseases will shift even more towards non-communicable diseases in the next generation. Among these diseases are cardiovascular conditions, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes. Additionally, there will be an increase in exposure to risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, unhealthy diet, and tobacco use.

As reported by "The Lancet," as the disease burden shifts towards non-communicable diseases, years of lost life are being replaced by years lived with disability. Therefore, specialists predict that more people will live longer but spend more years in poor health. According to them, the global average life expectancy will increase from 73.6 years in 2022 to 78.1 years in 2050 (an increase of 4.5 years). However, the expected length of life in good health globally will increase by only 2.6 years, from 64.8 years in 2022 to 67.4 years in 2050.

Dr. Chris Murray from the University of Washington, one of the study's authors, notes: "This is an indicator that while health inequalities between the highest and lowest income regions will remain, the gaps are shrinking, with the biggest increases anticipated in sub-Saharan Africa."

Dr. Murray adds that policy interventions to prevent and mitigate behavioral and metabolic risk factors offer the best chance to slow down the global disease burden.

The study is based on the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021 results, which showed that the total number of years lost due to poor health and premature death resulting from metabolic risk factors has increased by as much as 50 percent since 2000. The study authors also analyzed alternative scenarios to compare the potential health effects of various public health interventions.

They noticed that scenarios with the most significant beneficial impact on people's life expectancy and longevity focus the most excellent attention on improving behavioral and metabolic risks. Closely following in terms of benefits are scenarios related to environmental safety and the improvement of children's nutrition and vaccination programs.

"There is immense opportunity ahead for us to influence the future of global health by getting ahead of these rising metabolic and dietary risk factors, particularly those related to behavioral and lifestyle factors like high blood sugar, high body mass index, and high blood pressure," concludes Dr. Murray.

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