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Cook County Residents Getting Fatter, But Living Longer

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(Credit: Thinkstock)

(Credit: Thinkstock)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of Cook County are smoking less and living longer, but are getting much fatter, a trend that could lead to a variety of health complications in the future, according to government statistics.

Smoking has declined four percentage points among both men and women in roughly the past 10 years.

However, obesity and high-blood pressure are both rising, which is attributable to a U.S. diet reliant more on convenience type food, which is typically higher in fat, calories and sodium.

As of 2012, more than a third of Cook County men (37 percent) were classified as obese. For women, it was over one in four (28 percent), according to the U.S. Health Map, compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese, according to the Centers For Disease Control.

High blood pressure is becoming alarmingly common, according to the data. A whopping 42 percent of Cook County men have high blood pressure, while more than 1 in 3 women (37 percent) suffer from hypertension.

High blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. Anybody with with a systolic level of 140 or more and a diastolic rate at 90 or more is considered a person with high blood pressure.

The amount of people exercising is basically stagnant among men, but increased steadily for women. Three out of four men in Cook County report getting some sort of physical activity, which is basically unchanged over the past 10 years. For women, 68 percent reported getting exercise in 2002, and that number rose to 74 percent in 2012.

Currently about 16 percent of men smoke, compared with 12 percent of women.

Overall life expectancy has risen steadily in the past 30 years.

In 1985, a man in Cook County could expect to live about 68 years. In 2012, it’s 76. Women, currently can expect to live to 82 on average, up from 77 in 1985.

Last week, World Health Organization said average life expectancy has risen globally to 73 years for a girl born in 2012 and 68 for a boy following successes in fighting diseases and child mortality.

“We’re seeing a health transition from success in infectious diseases to more people dying, including at younger ages, from non-communicable diseases,” said Ties Boerma, chief of statistics and information systems at the WHO.

While Americans are living longer, other countries appear to be healthier, at least in terms of longevity, WHO reported.

The top 10 countries for female life expectancy:

1. Japan: 87.0 years

2. Spain: 85.1 years

3. Switzerland: 85.1 years

4. Singapore: 85.1 years

5. Italy: 85.0 years

6. France: 84.9 years

7. Australia: 84.6 years

8. Republic of Korea: 84.6 years

9. Luxembourg: 84.1 years

10. Portugal: 84.0 years

The top 10 countries for male life expectancy:

1. Iceland: 81.2 years

2. Switzerland: 80.7 years

3. Australia: 80.5 years

4. Israel: 80.2 years

5. Singapore: 80.2 years

6. New Zealand: 80.2 years

7. Italy: 80.2 years

8. Japan: 80.0 years

9. Sweden: 80.0 years

10. Luxembourg: 79.7 years

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