Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf blamed what he calls “misinformation” for a decline in American life expectancy in a recent interview.
Califf told CNBC that the overall situation was “looking worse, not better, over the last several years.”
Part of the decline in life expectancy, he said, was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he also said that the average age of death in the United States is declining quicker than in other industrialized nations.
However, he also blamed a number of factors including race, income, and education. In particular, The FDA chief linked living in rural regions with misinformation.
He said that the negative outcomes are linked to “choices that people make because of the things that influenced their thinking.”
Califf said that social media has also played a major role in the negative outcomes, citing “the impact of a single person reaching a billion people on the internet all over the world, we just weren’t prepared for that.”
He said that such contact was “impacting our health in very detrimental ways.”
Life expectancy has been declining over the last several years, for the first time in decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average age at death declined by 2.7 years between 2019 and 2021.
The result, according to Califf, has been that the United States now has an average life expectancy of about three to five years below European nations.
Life expectancy in the U.S. is three to five years lower than other high-income countries—FDA commissioner Robert Califf told CNBC misinformation is partly to blame. https://t.co/e63RZeYa3n
— Forbes (@Forbes) April 11, 2023
COVID played a role in the numbers, but the CDC also found a four-fold increase in the number of drug overdoses. The sharpest increase in such drug overdoses came for those over the age of 65. Those aged 34-44 saw the highest rates of drug-related deaths during that period.
Among the leading causes of the rise in mortality is related to the increase in the supply of fentanyl in the United States. Heroin-related overdose deaths decreased during this period.
Efforts to reduce opioid-related drug overdoses have gained new attention, including training and anti-overdose drugs.