Will people's life expectancy decrease again in the near future?

What is the average life expectancy in 2040?

Researchers predict that life expectancy for men and women will increase by an average of 4.4 years worldwide by 2040. However, it is possible that future decisions about public health and political decisions could lead to a decrease in life expectancy in almost half of the countries in the world.

The University of Washington scientists found in their current investigation that various choices could lead to a reduction in life expectancy by 2040. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet".

Experts use a model for their study

For their study, the researchers created a model that shows the health consequences and main causes of death for 2040 in 195 countries. The model was based on a previous study that analyzed such factors in global populations between 1990 and 2016. The model also considered 79 key health factors such as smoking, body mass index, clean water, and good hygienic conditions, along with other variables such as fertility measurements, income, and education. Using different numerical models, the experts calculated three different scenarios, which included the most probable, the best possible and the worst human health.

What were the results in the most likely scenario?

In the most likely scenario, the eight most common causes of death in 2040 are expected to be ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory tract infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and road traffic injuries. In this scenario, life expectancy in the U.S. is estimated to be 79.8 years in 2040, doctors say. This corresponds to an improvement in life expectancy of 1.1 years compared to the estimate for 2016. However, other parts of the world would experience major improvements in life expectancy. For example, life expectancy in Syria is expected to increase from 68.2 years in 2016 to 78.6 years in 2040. Life expectancy for men and women in Japan, Singapore and Spain will increase to over 85 years and in 59 other countries, including China, to over 80 years. While this scenario predicts an improvement in life expectancy for most countries, it also indicated that deaths from multiple non-infectious diseases will increase, the researchers reported.

How did good or bad health affect you?

In the context of the so-called scenario with improved human health, men could have an average life expectancy of 7.8 years higher by 2040, life expectancy for women would be increased by an average of 7.2 years. However, in the scenario that examined poorer health, life expectancy will decrease in almost half of the countries examined. Perhaps most striking is that HIV / AIDS deaths have increased by 120 percent in this scenario.

Health systems have to take various factors into account

Whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or badly the health systems take into account the most important health factors. The main health factors that can lead to premature death are high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, and tobacco and alcohol consumption, the researchers say.

Differences between high and low income countries remain large

The report also predicted that life expectancy differences between high and low income countries will decrease in the most likely scenario by 2040. Nevertheless, the inequalities will remain large, the experts explain. These countries need to help people cope with the greatest risks, especially smoking and poor nutrition. Technical innovations and higher health care expenditures are particularly crucial to help these countries, the authors write. (as)

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