Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Spanish to live longest in 2040: study

AFP, PARIS

Life expectancy in 2040 is set to rise at least a little in all nations, but the rankings would change dramatically, with Spain taking the top spot, while China and the US trade places, researchers said on Wednesday.

With a projected average lifespan of nearly 85.8 years, Spain — formerly in fourth place — would dethrone Japan, which sits atop the rankings today with a lifespan of 83.7 years and would drop to second place in 2040.

In a shift that would be seen by some to reflect a superpower changing of the guard, the world’s two largest economies effectively swap positions compared with 2016: in 2040 the US drops from 43rd to 64th (79.8 years), while China rises from 68th to 39th (81.9 years).

The researchers found other nations set to lose ground in the race toward longevity include Canada (from 17th to 27th), Norway (12th to 20th), Australia (fifth to 10th), Mexico (69th to 87th), Taiwan (35th to 42nd) and North Korea (125th to 153rd).

Moving up the rankings are Indonesia (117th to 100th), Nigeria (157th to 123rd), Portugal (23rd to fifth), Poland (48th to 34th), Turkey (40th to 26th) and Saudi Arabia (61st to 43rd).

Assuming its interminable and devastating war comes to an end, Syria is set to rise from 137th in 2016 to 80th in 2040.

For the world as a whole, the researchers’ study projected a five-year gain in lifespan, from 73.8 in 2016 to 77.7 in 2040.

They also forecast more optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, in which life expectancy increases to 81 years in the first case and essentially stagnates in the second.

“The future of the world’s health is not preordained, but whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers,” said lead author Kyle Foreman, head of data science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

The top five “drivers,” or determinants, of average lifespans two decades from now are all related to so-called “lifestyle” diseases: high blood pressure, being overweight, high blood sugar, as well as alcohol and tobacco use.

More generally, the world would see an acceleration of the shift already under way from communicable to non-communicable diseases, along with injuries, as the top cause of premature death.

Ranking a close sixth is air pollution, which scientists estimate claims 1 million lives a year in China alone.

After Spain and Japan, the nations with the greatest longevity in 2040 are forecast to be Singapore (85.4 years), Switzerland (85.2 years), Portugal and Italy (84.5 years), Israel (84.4 years), France (84.2 years), and Australia and Luxembourg (84.1 years).

The world’s poorest nations this year would continue to fair poorly when it comes to life expectancy, according to the study, published in The Lancet.

With the exception of Afghanistan, the bottom 30 nations in 2040 — with projected lifespans between 57 and 69 years — are either in sub-Saharan Africa or small island states in the Pacific.

“Inequalities will continue to be large,” IHME director Christopher Murray said. “In a substantial number of countries, too many people will continue earning relatively low incomes, remain poorly educated and die prematurely, but nations could make faster progress by helping people tackle the major risks, especially smoking and poor diet.”

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