The researchers also highlighted ways to modify this risk, including quitting smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and taking medications as prescribed.
The study relied on data from the Global Burden of Disease, a resource maintained by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that tracks the spread of diseases and risk factors around the world, along with the relative harm they cause. The global burden of disease shows that life expectancy remaining at age 65 in the United States increased from 17.6 years in 1990 to 19.6 years in 2019, a two-year gain. On the other hand, healthy life expectancy increased by less than one year, from 12.2 years to 13.1 years.
This reflects similar statistics from the World Health Organization, which found that life expectancy in the United States at age 60 rose about 8% between 2000 and 2019, but that healthy life expectancy rose less than 5%.
Learn about other barriers to a healthier life
The Vitality researchers said the global burden of disease has some limitations: It does not track the impact of well-established prevention strategies such as vaccinations and screenings, or take into account risk factors such as stress, depression, lack of sleep, loneliness and lack of purpose. .
It is also important to realize that there can be huge systemic barriers to a healthier life. If you live in an area with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it can be difficult to eat well. If you live in crowded housing in an unsafe neighborhood, getting enough exercise can be difficult. If you have to choose between buying medicine and food, you’re less likely to fill the prescription your doctor wrote for you — assuming you can afford a doctor’s visit. The more money you have, the better access you will have to key health interventions that help people live longer, healthier lives.