Fast Chat: Eat Your Veggies

If you're an Asian woman living in Bergen County, N.J., good news: your life expectancy, says a new study, is 91. That's 33 years longer than Native American men in South Dakota. Surprisingly, low-income rural whites in the Northern plains and Dakotas ranked second best after Asians. Money plays a role in health, but habits may have the most impact overall. Claudia Kalb talked to lead author Christopher Murray of the Harvard School of Public Health.

First, there are millions of Americans living with life expectancies that are essentially equal to [those in] poor developing countries. Second, the vast majority of disparities can be traced to chronic disease in the working aged adult population. Third, there's no sign that the disparities are getting smaller.

Tobacco, alcohol consumption, obesity, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, low fruit and vegetable intake, and physical inactivity.

It goes back to those risk factors. They have a strong cultural identity; that translates into what people eat and how they live their lives. I don't think genes are much of a story.

We should strengthen what's been effective, like anti-tobacco initiatives, [and put] more attention on tackling chronic disease in working aged adults.