Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Live Longer: Life Expectancy Can Vary as Much as 20 Years

A news story in last week's Baltimore Sun caught my attention with its headline: "20-year life gap separates city's poorest, weathy."

The story tells the difference in the life expectancy in West Baltimore's impoverished neighborhoods - 63 years, and the affluent Roland Park area - 83 years.

Clearly, there are lessons for us all in living longer, healthier lives. I'm not sure all of them have to do with money, either, although financial well-being is directly tied to longevity in nearly all studies. According to the story, for every increase in $10,000 in a neighborhood's median household income, residents lived 3.4 years longer. But even among neighborhood's not so financially divergent there may be lifespan differences of up to 10 years.

While homicides account for much of the inner-city's lowered life expectancy, other factors such as nutrition and exercise account for at least some of the difference. Of course when you are concerned with survival, you don't have much energy left to think about fresh fruits, vegetables and exercise.

For Americans, living in neither the wealthiest nor the poorest neighborhoods, we do have choices. It appears those choices can lead to significant differences in live span, too.

So like our mothers always said: "Eat your vegetables!" Eat some fresh fruit, too.

Go for a walk today.

Live longer and healthier.

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