South Korean women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90, a study suggests. Imperial College London and the World Health Organization analysed lifespans in 35 industrialised countries.  It predicted all would see people living longer in 2030 and the gap between men and women would start to close in most countries.  The researchers said the findings posed big challenges for pensions and care for elderly people. “South Korea has gotten a lot of things right,” Prof Majid Ezzati told the BBC News website. “They seem to have been a more equal place and things that have benefited people – education, nutrition – have benefited most people. “And so far, they are better at dealing with hypertension and have some of the lowest obesity rates in the world.” The data also forecasts that Japan, once the picture of longevity, will tumble down the global rankings. It currently has the highest life expectancy for women, but will be overtaken by both South Korea and France, the study suggests. Meanwhile, male life expectancy will go from the fourth highest to 11th out of the countries studied. The US also performs poorly and is on course to have the lowest life expectancy of rich countries by 2030. The study predicts an average age of 80 for men and 83 for women – roughly the same state Mexico and Croatia will have achieved. “They are almost opposite of South Korea,” added Prof Ezzati. “[Society in the US is] very unequal to an extent the whole national performance is affected – it is the only country without universal health insurance.  “And it is the first country that has stopped growing taller, which shows something about early life nutrition.”

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