South Korean men steal 'world's longest lived' title from Australians

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Elderly couple
An elderly couple looks out at the ocean as they sit on a park bench in La Jolla, California Reuters/Mike Blake

A new research shows that by 2030, Australian men are set to lose the crown as the world's longest lived on the planet.  The study, published on Wednesday in The Lancet, shows that South Koreans are stealing the bragging rights as the longest living race for both men and women.

The latest study shows that out of 35 developed nations, South Korea has the highest chance to see the largest longevity gains by 2030. Life expectancy of South Korean men is projected to reach 84.1 years while Australian mean born in 2030 can expect to live to 84. Australian women currently hold fourth place as the longest living race at 84.53.

South Korean women are likely to break the 90-year mark (90.8 years). The findings is attributed to better nutrition from childhood to adolescence, low smoking rates and better access to health care.

Aside from South Korea and Australia, the study suggests that Switzerland also has highly overlapping distributions of projected life expectancy for men. These countries occupy the top three ranks as the longest living race. "There is an at least 95% probability that men's life expectancy at birth in these three countries will surpass 80 years in 2030, and 27% that it would surpass 85 years," the authors wrote.

Life expectancy for both men and women from the Land Down Under has significantly improved in the past century. Data from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare released last year shows that a boy born from 2013 to 2015 is expected to live to 80.4 years and a girl to live 84.5 years.

Professor Andrea Maier, a bio-gerontology specialist at the University of Melbourne, said the rising life span indicates that public health and health care are efficient. But still, people need to learn how to live longer in a healthier way to guarantee that the healthcare system doesn't lose its efficiency. "Otherwise we are just growing old as patients. It really matters how you behave in early age to prevent disasters at old age," she said.

Several researchers believe that life expectancy will not exceed 90 years. "As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years," said lead author Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London.

Ailiana Santosa from the Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research noted that countries are moving towards universal health coverage. “Achieving universal health coverage is worthy, plausible, and needs to be continued,” she said.

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