Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population
Background—Americans have a shorter life expectancy compared with residents of almost all other high-income countries. We aim to estimate the impact of lifestyle factors on premature mortality and life expectancy in the US population.
Methods—Using data from the Nurses' Health Study (1980-2014; n=78 865) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2014, n=44 354), we defined 5 low-risk lifestyle factors as never smoking, body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2, ≥30 min/d of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and a high diet quality score (upper 40%), and estimated hazard ratios for the association of total lifestyle score (0-5 scale) with mortality. We used data from the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys; 2013-2014) to estimate the distribution of the lifestyle score and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention WONDER database to derive the agespecific death rates of Americans. We applied the life table method to estimate life expectancy by levels of the lifestyle score.
Results—During up to 34 years of follow-up, we documented 42 167 deaths. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for mortality in adults with 5 compared with zero low-risk factors were 0.26 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.22-0.31) for all-cause mortality, 0.35 (95% CI, 0.27-0.45) for cancer mortality, and 0.18 (95% CI, 0.12-0.26) for cardiovascular disease mortality. The population-attributable risk of nonadherence to 5 low-risk factors was 60.7% (95% CI, 53.6-66.7) for all-cause mortality, 51.7% (95% CI, 37.1-62.9) for cancer mortality, and 71.7% (95% CI, 58.1-81.0) for cardiovascular disease mortality. We estimated that the life expectancy at age 50 years was 29.0 years (95% CI, 28.3-29.8) for women and 25.5 years (95% CI, 24.7-26.2) for men who adopted zero low-risk lifestyle factors. In contrast, for those who adopted all 5 low-risk factors, we projected a life expectancy at age 50 years of 43.1 years (95% CI, 41.3-44.9) for women and 37.6 years (95% CI, 35.8-39.4) for men. The projected life expectancy at age 50 years was on average 14.0 years (95% CI, 11.8-16.2) longer among female Americans with 5 lowrisk factors compared with those with zero low-risk factors; for men, the difference was 12.2 years (95% CI, 10.1-14.2).
Conclusions—Adopting a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce premature mortality and prolong life expectancy in US adults.
- Received October 3, 2017.
- Revision received February 14, 2018.
- Accepted February 27, 2018.