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High smoking rates in 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in US explain comparatively lower life expectancy of older Americans

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d574 (Published 27 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d574
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

High levels of cigarette smoking in the past and rising rates of obesity are the primary reasons why US citizens older than 50 do not live as long as citizens in other industrialised nations. The study by the National Research Council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, was released on 25 January.

Although life expectancy has risen in the US over the last 25 years, it had done so at a slower pace than most other high income countries, despite the fact that the US spends far more on healthcare per person than any other nation.

“Fifty years ago, smoking was much more widespread in the …

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