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How long will you live? That depends ...
We all hear the mantra about diet and exercise leading to longer life, but how about our zip code?
That can make a difference, according to a University of Nebraska Medical Center team that is unveiling a new Life Expectancy Calculator and Mapping for Nebraskans website.
The algorithm uses 10-year population-based state mortality data to predict life expectancy based on age, Gender, height, weight, race, home zip code, smoking status, amount of exercise and eating behavior.
“It’s a longevity estimate, but more importantly, it tells you what you can do to live longer,” said Dejun Su, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at the College of Public Health.
The online calculator was the idea of Ali S. Khan, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the College of Public Health.
“The handy little tool is a creative way to serve the health needs of all Nebraskans by reminding us that a large portion of health is a choice,” Dr. Khan said. “We hope the tool will help people make healthier choices and be outraged enough about th differences in life expectancy to get involved in their communities and champion solutions.”
Not only does it show improvements that can result from stopping smoking, increasing exercise and reducing weight, for example, but it includes a map that shows the differences in life expectancies based on where one lives.
It includes a map of life expectancies, ranging from 72 to 90 years in Nebraska.
McCook’s life expectancy is 79.4 years, and others range from places like the Pender area with 71.8 years, and Bellevue, 89.4 years.
“I want to increase public awareness of regional disparities in Nebraska and help direct resources and interventions to vulnerable, underserved communities where they are most needed to achieve better health equity,” Dr. Su said.
The McCook area is blessed with resources that help increase life expectancies, public health departments, hospitals and other healthcare providers as well as health clubs and organizations that supply vital services as well as promote healthy living.
There is always room for improvement, however, and the Life Expectancy Calculator provides a useful tool for measuring that progress.