A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century

N Engl J Med. 2005 Mar 17;352(11):1138-45. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsr043743.


Forecasts of life expectancy are an important component of public policy that influence age-based entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Although the Social Security Administration recently raised its estimates of how long Americans are going to live in the 21st century, current trends in obesity in the United States suggest that these estimates may not be accurate. From our analysis of the effect of obesity on longevity, we conclude that the steady rise in life expectancy during the past two centuries may soon come to an end.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases / mortality
  • Diabetes Complications / economics
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Forecasting*
  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology