Americans are falling behind in the getting older race. Back in the 1960s, American women were among the longest-lived in the world, but between 1980 and 2006 female life expectancy grew at about 60 percent of the rate for comparative countries and we are now ranked 28th. Women in France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Japan, England, Holland and Canada live longer than we do. Top of the pile is Japan where the average Japanese woman lives to just short of eighty-six years. American men are also falling behind. The longest lived males are Australians (79.27 years on average), followed by Japanese (79.2) and Swedes (78.92). The average lifespan for American men is 75.64 (www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich, October 21, 2013). Even more worrisome is an “unheard of” drop in life expectancy for uneducated white women in the U.S. According to a new study published in the Journal of Health Affairs (August 2012 31(8)1803-1813), white women who dropped out of high school experienced a five-year decline in life expectancy from 1990 to 2008, “an unheard-of drop for a wealthy country in the age of modern medicine,” according to one writer. Maybe the problem is modern medicine, which, with its emphasis on lowering cholesterol, has turned Americans, especially uneducated women, away from whole foods like butter and eggs and into the arms of the vegetable oil industry. Then, when they develop chronic disease, a cocktail of conventional drugs carries them off.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2014