Longevity rising, but not in all counties

  • Article by: WARREN WOLFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 16, 2011 - 8:03 PM

For 20 years, Minnesotans have lived longer than people in all but two other states.

In new data made public this week, for 2007, women in Minnesota moved up to No. 2, behind Hawaii, and men moved up to No. 1.

On average, women in the state can expect to live to 83, or 2.2 years above the national average. Men can look forward to 78 years, 2.4 years above the national average.

But within Minnesota, there's great variation among the counties. In eight counties, longevity actually slipped slightly from 1997, the result of increased smoking and obesity. Both have been targets of a two-year, $47 million campaign funded by the Legislature in 2008, which is unlikely to survive the current budget negotiations.

Longevity slipped in Benton, Chippewa, Meeker, Pine, Redwood, Rock, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties.

The study was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study made headlines this week with the finding that longevity for women slipped in 23 percent of the nation's counties, leading researchers to note a widening gap between the most and least healthy parts of the United States -- particularly in the South.

Here are five counties where Minnesotans in 2007 could expect to live the longest:

Men: Stearns (78.8 years), Washington (78.8), Dakota (78.7), Carver (78.6) and Olmsted (78.3).

Women: Stearns (83.9 years), Olmsted (83.7), Carver (83), Jackson and Nobles (both 82.9).

At the bottom of the pack:

Men: Beltrami (74.6 years), and Clearwater, Mahnomen, Pennington and Carlton (all 74.9).

Women: Pine (80.1 years), Benton (80.2), Mille Lacs (80.6), and Kanabec, Meeker and Sherburne (all 80.8).

To read the report, including a spreadsheet with data for all counties, go to www.startribune.com/a496

wolfe@startribune.com. • 612-673-7253

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