Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 1 June 2005
Vol. 2005, Issue 22, p. pe15
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2005.22.pe15]


Misdirection on the Road to Shangri-La

S. Jay Olshansky, Bruce A. Carnes, Ronald Hershow, Doug Passaro, Jennifer Layden, Jacob Brody, Leonard Hayflick, Robert N. Butler, David B. Allison, and David S. Ludwig

The authors are in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA (S.J.O., R.H., D.P., J.L., and J.B.), the Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73190, USA (B.C.), the Department of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, The Sea Ranch, CA 95497, USA (L.H.), the International Longevity Center, New York, NY 10028, USA (R.N.B.), the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA (D.B.A.), and the Department of Medicine at Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA (D.S.L.). E-mail: sjayo{at} (S.J.O.)

Key Words: obesity • mortality • life expectancy • life span • type II diabetes

Abstract: Will life expectancy in the United States rise or fall in this century? The implications of either scenario are far reaching. We contend that the rise of childhood obesity in the United States in the past three decades has been so dramatic that it will soon lead to higher than expected death rates at middle ages and a possible decline in life expectancy by midcentury. The most detrimental health and longevity effects will not be seen for decades--a phenomenon that cannot be detected by current methods used to forecast life expectancy or estimate the number of deaths currently attributable to obesity. This scenario contrasts sharply with the views of mathematical demographers who generate forecasts by relying on the assumption that the U.S. pattern of longevity will follow that of other longer lived nations and on the extrapolation of historical trends in life expectancy into the future.

Citation: S. J. Olshansky, B. A. Carnes, R. Hershow, D. Passaro, J. Layden, J. Brody, L. Hayflick, R. N. Butler, D. B. Allison, D. S. Ludwig, Misdirection on the Road to Shangri-La. Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2005 (22), pe15 (2005).

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Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150