Overall life expectancy in the United States is lagging behind global rates, with surprising declines in some areas -- especially among women.
A new study published in Population Health Metrics revealed that people in more than 80 percent of U.S. counties are living shorter lives compared to the average of 10 nations with the best life expectancy in the world.
Dr. Christopher Murray and researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the University of Washington compiled the results from data between 2000 and 2007.
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They found U.S. numbers were lower by 3.2 years -- 13 years behind for men and 16 years behind for women.
"Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per capita than any other nation on health, eight out of every 10 counties are not keeping pace in terms of health outcomes. That's a staggering statistic," Murray said.
In some U.S. counties, the life expectancy is more than 50 years less than that of other developed nations.
U.S. longevity dropped primarily in the South. Researchers blame smoking and obesity for the region's decline.
Some parts of Mississippi have the lowest life expectancy. A woman in the state can expect to live 73.5 years -- a decline of two years and lower than women in Honduras or El Salvador.
The highest county-level expectancies were in the northern plains and along the Pacific coast, researchers said.