SINGAPORE: Singaporeans will be living longer lives in 2040, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The result of the study released on Wednesday (Oct 17), ranks Singapore third in the world, with an average life expectancy of 85.4 years in the year 2040.
Those living in Spain are forecast to have the longest life expectancy, at 85.8 years, followed closely by Japan at 85.7 years.
The United States is forecast to drop the most in ranking among high-income countries, from 43 in 2016, to 64 in 2040. Average lifespans in the US is only expected to increase 1.1 years.
Overall, all countries are "likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans", says the report.
The increase in Singaporeans' life expectancy can be attributed to its health system and how key health issues are addressed, says the study on health and life expectancy.
“The future of the world’s health is not pre-ordained, and there is a wide range of plausible trajectories,” said Dr Kyle Foreman, Director of Data Science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, and lead author on the study. “But whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers.”
The top six health drivers that explain most of the future trajectory for premature mortality are high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco use, alcohol use and air pollution.
CAUSES OF PREMATURE DEATH
The study, published on Tuesday in the international medical journal The Lancet, projects a significant increase in deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and lung cancer, as well as worsening health outcomes linked to obesity.
In 2016, the top 10 causes of premature death in Singapore were ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, lung cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, colon and rectum cancer, suicide, chronic kidney disease, liver cancer, and breast cancer.
In 2040, however, the leading causes are expected to be lower respiratory infections, ischemic heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer, chronic kidney disease, liver cancer, colon and rectum cancer, stroke, hypertensive heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
ALTERNATIVE 'BETTER' AND 'WORSE' SCENARIOS POSSIBLE
The study is unprecedented in scope, Dr Foreman said, and provides more robust statistical modeling and more comprehensive and detailed estimates of risk factors and diseases than previous forecasts from the United Nations and other population studies institutes.
IHME researchers leveraged data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study to produce forecasts and alternative “better” and “worse” scenarios for life expectancy and mortality due to 250 causes of death for 195 countries and territories.
Researchers produced forecasts of independent drivers of health, including sociodemographic measurements of fertility, per capita income, and years of education, along with 79 independent drivers of health such as smoking, high body mass index, and lack of clean water and sanitation. They then used information on how each of these independent drivers affects specific causes of death to develop forecasts of mortality.
“Inequalities will continue to be large,” said IHME Director Dr Christopher Murray.
“The gap between the ‘better’ and ‘worse’ scenarios will narrow but will still be significant. In a substantial number of countries, too many people will continue earning relatively low incomes, remain poorly educated, and die prematurely. But nations could make faster progress by helping people tackle the major risks, especially smoking and poor diet.”
In a “worse” scenario, life expectancy decreases in nearly half of all countries over the next generation. Specifically, 87 countries will experience a decline, and 57 will see an increase of one year or more. In contrast, in the “better” scenario, 158 countries will see life expectancy gains of at least five years, while 46 nations may see gains of 10 years or more.