Modern-day issuesCAPTION: An obese child sits out in an exercise.
Race and health
Despite tremendous medical advances in the 20th century, race still plays a role in determining one’s longevity. In America, Asian Americans live on average the longest (avg. of 84.9 years), particularly those with higher levels of education. In second place, according to the University of Pennsylvania, are Northland (the Dakotas, Montana, and areas in the American North) rural whites (avg. of 79 years). In third place are those in Midwest (avg. of 77.9 years) while in fourth place are low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley (avg. of 75 years). Native Americans in the West are in fifth place (avg. of 72.7 years), while blacks in middle America are in sixth place (avg. of 72.9 years) in terms of longevity. Coming last are rural low-income blacks in the South (avg. of 71.2 years) and urban blacks (avg. of 71.1 years).
The 5.3 year mortality gap between whites and blacks can be explained by the higher incidence of heart disease among blacks, who face a 30% higher likelihood of dying from heard disease. In addition, prevalence of diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease, among blacks is 70% higher than among whites. Blacks also have a 14% higher chance of hypertension than whites, reflecting not a genetic link, but rather a socioeconomic one. One reason that more blacks die from heart disease at a younger age is that they respond differently to cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-lowering drugs.