Washingtonians Live the Longest, but Women Are Falling Behind

New data shows that girls are on track to live shorter lives than their mothers.

By: Melissa Romero

Good news, Washingtonians: You're going to live a long time.

Bad news, ladies: We're living shorter lives.

All of this is according to new data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which found that women's lifespans are improving, but at a slower pace than men. Even more troubling: Girls born in 2009 are on track to live shorter lives than their moms.

"It's tragic that in a country as wealthy as the United States, with all the medical expertise we have, so many girls will live shorter lives than their mothers," said lead researcher Ali Mokdad in a statement.

In data analyzed by county from 1989 to 2009, the IHME found that life expectancy improved for men by 4.6 years, but only by 2.7 years for women. In more than 600 counties, life expectancy remained steady or decreased for women since 1999. The same was true for men, but only in 166 counties.

The researchers noted that most of the health disparities affecting the differing life expectancies were preventable causes of death, including tobacco, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and alcohol use. Women tended to receive inadequate treatment for high blood pressure and cholesterol, in particular. An estimated 54,000 female deaths could be saved by reducing the amount of salt they ingest.

In our neck of the woods, however, Washingtonians tend to be doing pretty well overall. Women of Montgomery and Fairfax counties have some of the best life expectancies in the world, at 85 and 84.1, respectively. Montgomery was third behind only Marin County in California, and Collier County in Florida, which has a life expectancy rate of 85.8.

Men in Montgomery and Fairfax also boast some of the highest expectancy rates, with 81.4 and 81.3, respectively. Men live the longest in Marin County.

In DC, a woman's average life expectancy is 79.6 years; for men it's 72.6. 

The counties with the worst life expectancy rates were Quitman and Tunica counties in Mississippi for men (66.9) and McDowell County in West Virginia for women (74.1).

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