Many Years In Which To Have Many Ailments

Bad news for the life-insurance business: Americans expect to live nearly forever. The chart below, excerpting a poll commissioned by Royal Philips Electronics, tells the tale. As you can see, just 10 percent of adults believe they’ll die before making it past 70 (leaving aside the 9 percent who said they don’t know how long they’ll last); one in five expect to live beyond 90. People in the 66-75 bracket are just as likely as those 18-25 to think they’ll make it past 100 (4 percent of each cohort).

People’s faith in their longevity coexists with anxiety that all sorts of ills might soon befall them. The poll asked respondents to say which of 15 ailments they’re concerned about “as potential threats to your health in the next five years.” Heart attack (cited by 24 percent), cancer (21 percent) and stroke (14 percent) all evoked concern. So did such factors as overweight/obesity (39 percent) and high cholesterol (31 percent). As for physical conditions that are debilitating but not life-threatening, joint pain/arthritis (40 percent), declining vision (29 percent) and declining hearing (18 percent) were major worries. Twenty percent of respondents cited depression; 16 percent mentioned anxiety. AIDS has practically fallen off the map as a personal concern, with just 2 percent citing it.

Among other info-tidbits from the survey: When women were asked how many pounds they’d like to lose, the number saying “none” (16 percent) was dwarfed by the number who’d like to shed more than 30 pounds (36 percent). Among men, the “none” tally (30 percent) far exceeded the lose-30-pounds-or-more vote (18 percent). In a breakdown by age group, the 46-55s were the most likely to say they’d like to lose at least 30 pounds (34 percent). Among the 18-25s, who’ve had less time in which to pack on the poundage, just 20 percent said they would like to lose that much weight. But they were bettered by the 76-and-older cohort, among whom just 11 percent said they’d like to drop more than 30 pounds.