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Life expectancy rises in all 88 Ohio counties

By JOANNE VIVIANO GateHouse Ohio Media Published: May 19, 2017 10:00 AM

A new report shows that life expectancies have risen in all 88 of Ohio's counties.

Nationwide, life expectancies fell in 13 counties from 1980 to 2014, according to the report published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington-Seattle. The lowest life expectancy in 2014 was 66.8 years, in Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota. The highest life expectancy, 86.8 years, was in Summit County, Colorado.

The report was published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Statewide, Ohio's life expectancy in 2014 was 77.9. That compares with a U.S. life expectancy of 79.1.

Life expectancy in Stark County rose from 73.9 years in 1980 to 78.5 in 2014.

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Carroll County improved from 74.9 to 78.2.

While advances in science have led to overall higher life expectancies in central Ohio, there are vast differences among neighborhoods, said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for Columbus Public Health.

Poverty, education, housing and safety issues can all create varied life expectancies, not only from county to county but from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Such disparities can be seen all over the country, said Kathy Cowen, director of the office of epidemiology at Columbus Public Health.

"We know that there are differences across the county, just geographically," she said. "Those typically line up with areas that are under-resourced, lower education, lower income areas."

Nationwide, the 20-year difference between the highest and lowest life expectancies can be explained by risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and smoking, as well as socioeconomic factors including race, education and income, said the study's lead author Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, a researcher at the Institute.

"These findings demonstrate an urgent imperative, that policy changes at all levels are gravely needed to reduce inequality in the health of Americans," Ali Mokdad, an Institute researcher who helped author the study, said in a statement.

"Federal, state, and local health departments need to invest in programs that work and engage their communities in disease prevention and health promotion."


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