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The Geography of Healthy Aging

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The Geography of Healthy Aging

Where you live determines how long and how well you’ll live

In news that probably won’t surprise you, folks in the South, regardless of race, and blacks nationwide have lower healthy life expectancy (HLE) at age 65. This information comes courtesy of a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Where you live in the United States shouldn’t determine how long and how healthy you live—but it does, far more than it should,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., says in a statement. “Not only do people in certain states and African Americans live shorter lives, they also live a greater proportion of their last years in poor health. It will be important moving forward to support prevention programs that make it easier for people to be healthy no matter where they live.”

Hawaii had the highest HLE at 65, and the lowest was in Mississippi. By race, HLE estimates for blacks were comparatively low throughout the U.S., except in Nevada and New Mexico. For whites HLE was lowest in Southern states. Women had greater HLE than men in all states.

HLE estimates can predict future health service needs, evaluate health programs, and identify trends and inequalities, public health officials say. They also can expose populations that might be suffering from illness or disability for years.

The report, released today, used 2007-2009 data from the National Vital Statistics Systems, U.S. Census Bureau and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to calculate HLEs by sex and race for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., for all people aged 65 years.

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BHM Edit Staff