The Shape of Things to Come: Will Changes in Prevalence of Obesity and Smoking Influence the Quantity and Quality of Life of White, Black, and Hispanics in the United States?

Jennifer Van Hook , Pennsylvania State University
Michelle Frisco, Pennsylvania State University
Carlyn Graham, Pennsylvania State University

Obesity and smoking are the two leading causes of preventable deaths and disability in the U.S. We estimate the extent to which increases in early adult obesity and declines in smoking across birth cohorts from the 1940s through the 1990s are associated with life expectancy and healthy life expectancy using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Studies and Linked Mortality files from 1999-2009. Simulations suggest that cohort changes in obesity are associated with a reduction in life expectancy and an increase in years spent disabled, while cohort changes in smoking are associated with increased life expectancy and spending fewer years of life as disabled. On balance, trends in obesity and smoking largely offset each other. Study findings are consistent across men and women and among U.S.-born black and white adults. Consistent patterns are also observed for U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanic adults, although results were not statistically significant.

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 Presented in Session 112. Future of Health: Consequences of Cohort Differences in Health Behaviors