President Trump’s life expectancy is the same as the average American male. Compared to other countries, that’s not necessarily good news.
Trump, 71, underwent a four-hour medical exam last week. When a reporter asked his doctor, Ronny Jackson, how the president can be in such great shape, given that he rarely exercises, eats McDonald’s and drinks Diet Coke, Jackson responded, “It’s called genetics. I dunno. Some people have, you know, just great genes …It’s just the way God made him.” Jackson also answered a question from a reporter about Trump’s life expectancy. “He probably won’t live to be 200. I would say his life expectancy is the same as every other American male right now.” (Life expectancy can vary, depending on the year you were born.)
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The U.S., however, does not compare favorably to other countries on life expectancy. Life expectancy in the U.S. hovers at 78.7 years, which is actually below the average of 80.1 years among countries that are members of the Paris, France-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In fact, the U.S. ranks in just 27th place. Japan is No. 1 for life expectancy (83.9 years) followed by Switzerland, Spain (both 83 years), Italy (82.6 years), Australia and Iceland (both 82.5 years). South Africa was last in a ranking of 38 countries at 57.4 years, just behind the Russian Federation (71.3 years) and Latvia (74.6 years).
“Most OECD countries have enjoyed large gains in life expectancy over the past decades, thanks to improvements in living conditions, public health interventions and progress in medical care,” according to the OECD report. While life expectancy in the U.S. was 1.5 years above the OECD average in 1960, it is now one year below the average of 80 years. “Higher life expectancy is generally associated with higher health care spending per person, although many other factors have an impact on life expectancy such as living standards, lifestyles, education and environmental factors,” the OECD added.
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However, Americans say they feel good when asked and/or are not aware of the worsening mortality rate in the U.S.. When asked, “How is your health in general?” 88% of people in the U.S. reported to be in good health, far higher than the OECD average of 69% and one of the highest scores across the OECD. “Despite the subjective nature of this question, answers have been found to be a good predictor of people’s future health care use,” the report added. Gender, age and social status may affect answers to this question.
In the U.S., life expectancy is actually shorter for men than women: 76.1 years in 2016 versus 81.1 years, respectively. Life expectancy for females is consistently higher than it was for males. In 2016, the difference in life expectancy between females and males increased 0.2 year, from 4.8 years in 2015 to 5.0 years in 2016. The 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide, the Centers for Disease Control said.
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But there is another reason for the drop in life expectancy in the U.S. in recent years: The opioid epidemic.There were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016, according to the CDC. That was the second consecutive annual decline in U.S. life expectancy since the 1960s. “I’m not prone to dramatic statements,” Robert Anderson, head of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, told NPR. “But I think we should be really alarmed.” Trump has called the opioid epidemic “a public health emergency.”