Global Life Expectancy Could Rise By More Than 4 Years by 2050


Key Takeaways

  • Life expectancy is expected to increase by 4 to 5 years around the world during the next three decades

  • The increases will mainly benefit countries where life expectancy is typically shorter

  • Chronic disease will play a greater role in life expectancy, compared to infectious diseases

FRIDAY, May 17, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy around the world is expected to increase by nearly 5 years in men and more than 4 years in women during the next three decades, researchers predict.

These increases are expected to be in countries where life expectancy typically is shorter, according to the report published May 16 in The Lancet.

The trend is largely driven by public health measures that have improved prevention, detection and treatment of heart disease, COVID-19 and a range of health problems related to infectious disease, giving birth and nutrition, researchers said.

However, they also detected a shift occurring in the diseases that influence life expectancy.

Chronic ailments like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and lung disease are expected to play a more powerful role than infectious diseases in how long people live, researchers said.

As a result, risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking will have the greatest impact on disease and life expectancy in the next generation.

In fact, the number of years lost to poor health and early death from such metabolic risk factors has increased by 50% since 2000, the researchers found.

“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,” said researcher Dr. Chris Murray, chair of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington.

Overall life expectancy is predicted to increase from 73.6 years to 78.1 years between 2022 and 2050, researchers said.

The average number of years a person can expect to live in good health will rise from 64.8 years in 2022 to 67.4 years in 2050.

U.S. life expectancy rose in 2022 to 77.5 years, an increase from 76.4 in 2021, according to an recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

It was the first year that life expectancy rose in the United States since the pandemic, but it remains lower than the pre-pandemic life expectancy of 78.8 years, the NCHS noted.

Global life expectancy is expected to rise as people in less fortunate countries live longer, catching up to developed nations, researchers said.

“In addition to an increase in life expectancy overall, we have found that the disparity in life expectancy across geographies will lessen,” Murray said in a university news release. “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.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on U.S. life expectancy.

SOURCE: University of Washington, news release, May 16, 2024

What This Means For You

Chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease are expected to have more influence over life expectancy during the next three decades.

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