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How Many Healthy Years Do You Have Left?

The following article posted average life expectancies for both men and women in countries throughout the world. But what was interesting is that it also gave the average years that a person would be healthy and also unhealthy (which is typically the last years of life). And no matter which country one looks at and the average life expectancy of men and women, it turns out that on average people spend about one eighth of their life in a disabled or unhealthy state. Or between 10 to 20% of their life disabled or unhealthy.

So looking at the United States, it is expected that the average women will live 81 years, but about 13 of those years will be in poor health. Men in the USA will live on average 76 years, but of that about 11 years will be unhealthy. Which means, don't wait until retirement to travel and do all those things you want to do, because you may have health issues preventing you from doing those things - so get out there NOW and DO IT ALL. The "bucket list" should be started now. (Note: I only copied information for 5 countries, but the actual chart has 188 countries. Do go check it out.) From NPR News:

Check Out Life Spans Around The World — And Likely Years Of Ill Health

How Long Will You Live — And How Many Of Those Years Will Be Healthy?

Here are the life expectancies in 188 countries — and the number of unhealthy years a person faces. No matter where you live, the range for years of healthy life is 80 to 90 percent.

Life expectancy compared with global average:

COUNTRY       MALE    UNHEALTHY YEARS       FEMALE       UNHEALTHY YEARS

GLOBAL            68                  8                                     74                       10

CANADA           79                 10                                     83                       12

CHINA               73                   8                                     79                         9

MEXICO             72                  9                                      78                       11

RUSSIA               65                 7                                       76                       10

USA                    76                 11                                      81                       13


Credit: Christopher Groskopf and Alyson Hurt/NPR  
   Notes: — Life expectancies are estimated for individuals born in 2013.  

It's one of those good news/bad news stories. A study in the medical journal The Lancet found that people around the world — in countries rich, poor and in the middle — are living longer. But here's the rub. You can't count on living those extra years in good health.

In the first of what will be an annual look at health along with life span around the world called the Global Burden of Disease Study, researchers found that between 1990 and 2013, life expectancy rose by 6.2 years. The average life span at birth across the globe is now 71.5 years, though rates vary tremendously by region. People live the longest, according to the Lancet study, in Andorra, in southwestern Europe, or an average of 83.9 years. People die the youngest, an average of 48.3 years, in Lesotho, in Africa.

But regardless of socioeconomics, geography or total number of years lived, the study shows what appears to be a universal part of the human condition: people live an average of one-eighth of their lives in a disabled or unhealthy state.

"What's interesting is that wherever you go around the world, about seven-eighths of life expectancy is healthy," says Peter Byass, professor of global health at UmeaUniversity in Sweden. "I'm not sure we totally understand why.We probably can't do a lot about decreasing this part of life that's not healthy," he adds. "That pretty much appears to be a part of being human."

Healthy life — the measure researchers used, called HALE, or healthy life expectancy years — ranged from a high of 73.4 years in Japan to a low, again in Lesotho, of 42 years. Not much is known about when those years of ill health occur. "A lot of the unhealthy stuff is around end of life," says Byass.

Spending more money on health care doesn't seem to reduce the proportion of life spent in ill health. The study was based on regional data and showed that in high-income North America, men live an average of 76.64 years, but only 66.17 of those years are healthy; women live an average of 81.62 years, but experience good health in only 68.85 of those years. The United States, which spends more on health care than any other country, is part of that high-income region. "This is seen even in places where there's a high investment in health care," says Byass, who wrote a commentary accompanying the Lancet study.

Countries where people die the youngest have the highest rates of communicable diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis as well as high rates of maternal and childhood mortality and malnutrition. "If we want to have a healthier global population, more equal health, the world has got to invest in getting rid of those avoidable problems in poorer countries, mainly in Africa," says Byass.

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