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America's Life Expectancy Improves

A recent study based on international statistics gathered since 2004 indicates that although America's life expectancy rate is improving, Americans are not living as long as people in other countries. An American will live an average of 77.9 years—an all-time high. Nevertheless, when compared to the life expectancy rates of other countries, America ranks 42nd. In a similar study done two decades ago, America ranked 11th.

The country of Andorra, located between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, followed by Japan, Maucau, San Marino, and Singapore. America also trailed most of Europe, Guam, and the Cayman Islands. Because of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, many of the countries in Africa have the shortest life expectancies (Swaziland, for example, has the shortest rate, at 34.1 years).

"Something's wrong when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Many experts point to the fact that 45 million Americans lack adequate health insurance, but there are other factors behind the lower ranking, including skyrocketing obesity rates among American adults and lack of personal concern over high blood pressure and cholesterol intake.

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