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Hawaii leads nation in life expectancy study

ATLANTA -- If you're 65 and living in Hawaii, odds are you'll live another 21 years. And for all but five of those years, you're likely to be in pretty good health.

Hawaii tops the charts in the government's first state-by-state look at how long Americans age 65 can expect to live, on average, and how many of those remaining years will be healthy ones.

Mississippians fared worst, with only about 17 1/2 years remaining after 65, nearly seven of them in poorer health.

U.S. life expectancy has been growing steadily, and is now nearly 79 for newborns, according to figures released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization keeps "healthy life expectancy" statistics on nearly 200 countries. In the United States, the measure is still catching on; the CDC study is the first to make estimates for all 50 states.

Overall, Americans who make it to 65 have about 19 years of life ahead of them, nearly 14 in relatively good health, the CDC said.

The South and parts of the Midwest had lower numbers. Southern states tend to have higher rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, as well as problems that affect health, such as poverty and less education.

These issues build up over a lifetime, so it's doubtful that moving to Hawaii after life in the South will suddenly give you more healthy years, they said.

States with the best numbers included Florida, Connecticut and Minnesota. New Yorkers can expect 20 more years, with more than 14 in good health.

The study also found that nationally, women at 65 can expect nearly 15 more years of healthy life. Men that age can expect about 13 years.