What Behaviors Are Responsible for a Shorter Lifespan?

According to researchers, data analysis of 13,600 adults from 1992 and 2008 revealed the major behaviors illustrated by people with earlier and higher mortality rates. This study pointed at harmful habits such as smoking cigarettes, daily consumption of alcohol, and a history of divorce to be the major factors behind many of the chronic health issues associated with deaths.

Cemetery

Cemetery

In addition to these, people who had never been married, unemployed people, people who used food stamps, and complained of a lower satisfactory life were all inclined to suffer from an earlier death.

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Financial instability was also implicated as a potential indicator of increased morbidity and mortality. All of the described risk factors were inter-related as people who are unmarried or divorced tend to have an unhealthier lifestyle, while financially unstable people tend to not be in a relationship. 

A life span Approach to Understanding Higher Mortality Rates

A proper and thorough understanding of the mortality rates and health status requires an approach that looks at the life span of a population encompassing all social, financial, and unhealthy lifestyle patterns.

“It shows that a life span approach is needed to really understand health and mortality,” said lead author Eli Puterman, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. Puterman noted, for example, that he and his colleagues looked at a 16-year history of unemployment, not just whether people were currently out of work.

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With their unique approach, they focused on all factors not on a single time point basis, but rather on a chronic status of each factor. For example, the researchers focused on collecting data on the participant’s employment status spanning several decades and not just when the data was collected at a particular time.

Stagnant life expectancy spanning 30 years

In the United States, life expectancy has been relatively stable with neither an increase nor a decrease over the past three decades in comparison to other developed countries. In spite of astounding leaps made in the health sector, life expectancy is not increasing as expected in the United States which was one of the reasons behind the interest of the researchers on this particular subject.

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Most studies focus on the environmental, genetic, and medical conditions predisposing to higher mortality rates but this study primarily focused on the social, economic, psychological, and behavioral aspects of the study participants.

The study findings could potentially help epidemiologists understand and potentially minimize the factors that are responsible for a stagnant life expectancy in a nation with a remarkable speed of its developing health sector.

References

Predicting mortality from 57 economic, behavioral, social, and psychological factors

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