Babies born in China are now expected to live healthier lives than those born in the United States, albeit still not longer, according to the World Health Organization.
The latest report, which was based on 2016 figures, found that China’s healthy life expectancy at birth is now higher than the United States’ for the first time.
Chinese babies are found to have 68.7 years of healthy life, while American babies have 68.5 years. However, U.S. newborns are still expected to live longer overall with 78.5 years compared to China’s 76.4.
The difference is that the last 10 years of American lives are not expected to be healthy.
“The lost years of good health that are a factor in calculating healthy life expectancy at birth are lower for China, Japan, Korea and some other high-income Asian countries than high-income Western countries,” WHO representative Alison Clements-Hunt was quoted as saying.
According to Reuters’ analysis of the WHO data published this month, the United States’ healthy life expectancy at birth fell along with that of Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2016.
Singaporean babies ranked at the top with 76.2 years of health expected on average. Japan, Spain and Switzerland follow at second, third, and fourth spots, respectively. China’s global ranking was at 37th place while the U.S. came at 40th.
While China’s overall life expectancy is still behind the United States’, the country is reportedly on track to overtake America in about 2027.
“Chinese life expectancy has increased substantially and is now higher than for some high-income countries,” Clements-Hunt noted.
According to Clements-Hunt, U.S. life expectancy is falling due to increasing rates of drug overdose deaths, suicides, and some other major causes among younger middle-aged Americans, especially in poorer areas.
Meanwhile, Japan still maintains the world’s longest life expectancy at 84.2 years.