How Will More Obesity and Less Smoking Affect Life Expectancy?

Samuel H. PrestonAndrew StokesNeil K. Mehta Bochen Cao

IB#14-2

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Obesity is on the rise and smoking is on the decline, so a key issue is the net effect of these two trends on future life expectancy.
  • The analysis examines how each behavior currently affects mortality and applies the results to an estimate of the future prevalence of each behavior.
  • The results show that, in 2040, the benefits of reduced smoking trump the damage from rising obesity.
  • However, the story differs by gender, with a solid gain for men and only a small improvement for women, who see less of a decline in smoking during the period.