Since the end of the Civil War until the late 20th century, lifespan increased rapidly in the United States, a tremendous public health triumph brought about by a more dependable food supply, improved sanitation, and advances in medical care. In 1850, life expectancy among whites was an estimated 38 years for men and 40 years for women. These numbers nearly doubled by 1980, to 71 years for men and 78 years for women. With the start of the obesity epidemic in the late 1970s, this trend began to slow, leading some to predict that life expectancy would decline in the United States by the mid-21st century.1
Ludwig DS. Lifespan Weighed Down by Diet. JAMA. 2016;315(21):2269–2270. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.3829
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