"Whenever death rates from the three major killer diseases decline, the next question to ask is whether the additional survival time is healthy or unhealthy," he said. "I look forward to the additional analyses that reveal the answer to this question.
"It is my hope that healthy life expectancy continues to rise, but it is important to remember that what is being reported is period life expectancy at birth. This figure cannot reflect how the health status of younger cohorts will be expressed in subsequent years," Olshansky said.
Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said, "News that life expectancy is increasing is, of course, good. But the evidence we have suggests that there is more chronic disease than ever in the U.S. Diabetes and obesity are both epidemic, and of particular concern. Death from heart disease and cancer may be declining, but not the rates of these diseases."
Adding years to life is a good thing, Katz said. "But adding vital life to years is at least equally important. If we care about living well, and not just longer, we still have our work cut out for us," he said.
To see the full report, visit the National Center for Health Statistics.
SOURCES: Donna Hoyert, Ph.D., health scientist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D., professor, public health, and senior research scientist, Center on Aging, University of Illinois, Chicago; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Sept. 12, 2007, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2005