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The big reasons why life expectancy keeps falling

It seems like every generation should live a bit longer than the last, right? We invest so much time and money in technology, medicine and related fields. We understand the human body in ways people couldn't fathom not that long ago. Many medical technologies that seemed like science fiction to our grandparents are now very real.

However, the reality is that life expectancy in the United States has continued to fall. The drop isn't big -- a tenth of a year, in one study -- but it's still going to wrong way, doing the opposite of what you would expect. Why is this?

Some experts have pointed to suicide and drug use. These things absolutely play a role, especially since they tend to impact younger people, but one expert thought that wasn't really the main reason. It lies more in lifestyle choices, he believes.

"A lot of the previous demographic literature has focused on changes in chronic disease rates in the American population and in particular on obesity," the doctor said in an interview. "There's been this enormous and persistent rise in the prevalence of obesity going back decades. In the U.S. today, around 40 percent of the adult population is obese and correlates very strongly, causally even, with diabetes and all kinds of other chronic conditions that are not just expensive to treat but also lead to increased mortality."

Obesity is very common in the United States, to the point that many people just feel like they are slightly overweight and are shocked to find out that they're obese when they go to the doctor.

But the key point here is that many factors play into this. No one is right or wrong. Anything that takes lives too early plays a role, and the overall facts are indisputable: Life expectancy is dropping in the U.S.

As you think about your estate planning and the end of your own life, please remember that you can't predict when that will be. Do not put your family at risk by neglecting to do it soon enough. Find out what steps you need to take to keep them safe and secure.

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