Past smoking, obesity why US life expectancy trails some countries

WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans got a head start on other high-income countries when it comes to smoking and overeating -- and it's reflected in the latest charts.

A report from the National Research Council says while the U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation, it has a lower life expectancy than many other countries. In 2007, the U.S. life expectancy at birth was 80.8 years for women and 75.6 years for men.

In France, life expectancy for women was 84.4 years and 77.4 for men. And in Japan, it was nearly 86 years for women and 79.2 for men. But the report also says the life expectancy of U.S. men is expected to increase, thanks to a decline in smoking.

It's expected to take longer to see that trend in U.S. women because their peak smoking rates came several years after those for men.

The report also said obesity may account for a fifth to a third of the country's shortfall in life expectancy, with specialists particularly concerned about the lifespan of children who live all their lives obese rather than getting fat as adults.

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