Looking for the highest life expectancy in the U.S.? Head to Colorado

DENVER – Tiny Summit County, Colorado – home to about 30,000 permanent residents – has the highest life expectancy in the country.

That’s according to new research published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The study’s authors used census data, death records and other government data to compare life expectancies for more than 3,000 counties nationwide between 1980 and 2014.

Overall, life expectancy in the United States increased by 5.3 years during that time. However, some areas have fared significantly better than others and five Colorado counties are among the top 10 nationwide.

A Summit County resident can expect to live for 86.83 years on average, considerably longer than the national life expectancy – for all sexes – of 79.08 years.

Nearby Pitkin and Eagle counties have the next-highest life expectancies nationwide, at 86.52 and 85.94 years, respectively.

Here are the ten counties with the highest life expectancies in the U.S.:

Summit County, CO – 86.83 years
Pitkin County, CO – 86.52 years
Eagle County, CO – 85.94 years
Billings County, ND – 84.04 years
Marin County, CA – 83.80 years
Fairfax County, VA – 83.73 years
San Miguel County, CO – 83.73 years
Aleutians East Borough/Aleutians West Census Area, AK – 83.73 years
Douglas County, CO – 83.72 years
Presidio County, TX – 83.72 years

The study also found that between 1980 and 2014, the difference between the highest and lowest life expectancies widened to about 20 years. The authors state that socioeconomic and racial/ethnic factors appear explain a large portion of the variation in life expectancy, but behavioral and metabolic factors can moderate those differences.

Here are the counties with the lowest life expectancies:

Kusilvak Census Area, AK – 70.83 years
Perry County, KY – 70.60 years
McDowell County, WV – 70.27 years
Breathitt County, KY – 70.22 years
Owsley County, KY – 70.21 years
Buffalo County, SD – 69.05 years
Sioux County, ND – 68.59 years
Todd County, SD – 68.51 years
Union County, FL – 67.57 years
Oglala Lakota County, SD – 66.81 years

The study’s authors argue that the geographical life expectancy gap will only continue to widen if programs and policies aren’t put into place to address the issue.

“The magnitude of these disparities demands action, all the more urgently because inequalities will only increase further if recent trends are allowed to continue uncontested,” the authors wrote.

To read more, pick up a copy of JAMA Internal Medicine or click here.

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