Mourner at a funeral From 1959 to2016, U.S. life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years,but then began to decline after 2014. (Photo:Shutterstock)

U.S. life expectancy is decreasing due in large part to midlifedeaths from drug overdoses, suicides and diseases brought on bysmoking, obesity and stress, according to a study published in the Journalof the American Medical Association.

"Despite excessive spending on health care, vastlyexceeding that of other countries, the United States has along-standing health disadvantage relative to other high-incomecountries that extends beyond life expectancy to include higherrates of disease and cause-specific mortality rates," writes thelead author, Steven H. Woolf, director emeritus of the Center onSociety and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.