Living in America - you don't live quite as long!

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According to the National Centre for Health Statistics, despite being one of the richest countries in the world, America has dropped to 42nd place in the world rankings of life expectancy.

This current ranking represents a drop of 31 places, from 11th position twenty years ago and comes in a comparison of life expectancy with the rest of the world.

Experts say the drop is due to the combination of expensive health insurance and soaring rates of obesity.

Along with these factors is the lack of any health insurance for 45 million Americans.

Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, says something is clearly wrong when one of the richest countries in the world, which spends the most on health care, is lagging behind other countries.

A lack of health care available to many Americans is bound to be a hot election issue next year with the Democratic already promising universal health care.

The disparity in wealth distribution in the U.S. is reflected by the decline in life expectancy; for African Americans it is 73.3, compared with 77.9 for whites, while for African-American males, it is even shorter at 69.8.

Democratic Congressman, Jim McDermott says health care coverage is the single biggest domestic crisis facing America and threatens all but the wealthiest Americans.

McDermott says in the U.S. unless a person is one of the richest 1% in the country, financial ruin is a real possibility because of a medical crisis.

According to the National Centre for Health Statistics, obesity which is frequently cited as among the causes of lower life expectancy now affects one third of U.S. adults.

Experts say America has the resources which allow people to become fat and lazy.

Improved health care, nutrition and lifestyle elsewhere in the world have also contributed to the slump in the rating and most of Europe, Japan, Singapore and Jordan now have longer life expectancy.

The U.S. also has a higher infant mortality rate than many other countries: 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

The worst life expectancy figures are in Africa, with Swaziland at the bottom, at 34.1 years.

The U.S. now lags behind countries such as Guam, while the highest life expectancy is found in a small area in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain called Andorra with a life expectancy of 83.5 years, Japan was second with 77.9 years.

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