While the gap between life expectancy rates for African Americans and Whites still exists, it has narrowed over the last two decades, according to “Health, United States, 2011,” a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released on Wednesday.
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Between 2000 and 2009, life expectancy at birth increased more for African Americans than for Whites, narrowing the life expectancy gap between these two racial groups, the report shows. In 2000, life expectancy at birth for Whites was 5.5 years longer than for the Blacks. By 2009, though, the difference narrowed to 4.3 years.
Hispanics still have higher life expectancies than both ethnic groups.
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While there is no one contributing factor, the rise in life expectancy rates could be attributed to improvements in treatments for cancer and strokes, which are most likely to affect African Americans, Amy Bernstein, health services researcher at the National Center for Health Statistics told NewsOne.
Overall, the report found that higher-earning, educated people tend to have lower rates of some chronic diseases, including obesity, compared to people with less income and lower levels of education.
“Looking at poverty and education is critically important, but it’s also helpful to look at the distribution by race and ethnicity because Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in poverty,” Bernstein said.