What we've been told about nutrition is often wrong.

Disturbing trend in death rates for women aged 15-54

Disturbing trend in death rates for women aged 15-54
death rates report

Death rates for non-Hispanic white American women aged 15-54 have risen substantially in 7 of 13 groups of causes. Why is this news? Because, until recently, life expectancy trends for women had been increasing, not decreasing.

Moreover, the death rates for non-Hispanic black American women declined during the same period, 1999 to 2011. An Urban Institute report released this month provided the analysis.

From the report (link below):

[I]n 1999, the standardized death rate for non-Hispanic white women from respiratory infection and disease causes was 5.6 per 100,000 women; by 2011 it had risen to 7.2 deaths per 100,000 women, an increase of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 per year.

By far the biggest jump was from accidental overdose of prescription painkillers. That death rate increased almost five times, from 3.3 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 15.9 in 2011.

The chart below suggests that deaths from car accidents, breast cancer, and murder have gone down. However, women are dying prematurely in greater numbers from diseases like the flu and respiratory infections as well from as chronic illnesses like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Change in death rates

Change in death rates for white American women, Urban Institute study, March 2015


As we know, chronic illnesses like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease are linked to dietary choices, whether made consciously or unconsciously.

It would be interesting to compare these data with data on diagnoses of depression.

Report reflects recent trend data

This 2015 report confirms a reversal in mortality trends for women that other researchers have documented. For example, in 2013 researchers reported that female mortality rose in 42.8% of U.S. counties from 1992 To 2006. For that same period, male mortality rates increased in only 3.4% of the counties.

“[We were] shocked to see that female mortality rates were worsening in more than 42 percent of counties
~ Dr. David Kindig, professor emeritus of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Mortality map

Red counties experienced a increase in mortality rates. Of the 3,140 counties in the sample, 603 (blue, 19.2%) experienced substantial improvement in female mortality rates. Another 1,193 counties (green, 38%) experienced minimal improvement.

In the 2013 report, female mortality was correlated with living in the rural south or the west, with greater smoking rates, and with lower education rates.

Is the growth of Walmart a factor?

What is another common denominator in the rural south and rural west over this time period?

The growth of Walmart with its high carb, high sugar processed food.

Half of the food sold at Walmart is banned at Whole Foods, according to an analysis at Slate.com. And that analysis was only of about half the inventory, since Walmart’s website discloses ingredients for only about half of its grocery inventory.

Moreover, in 2013 Salon reported that Walmart accounted for a quarter of the $660 billion Americans spent on groceries. More than half of Walmart’s sales come from groceries.

And from Grist in 2011:

Neighborhoods that gain Walmart stores end up with more poverty and food-stamp usage than communities where the retailer does not open, a study published in Social Science Quarterly found. This increase in poverty may owe to the fact that Walmart’s arrival leads to a net loss of jobs and lowers wages, according toresearch [PDF] by economists at the University of California-Irvine and Cornell.

Watch the growth of Walmart and Sam’s Club at Flowing Data.

Growth of Walmart and Sams

Walmart and Sams; see growth of the mega-chain at FlowingData.

Historical death rates

This 2012 report from the CDC shows historical death rates by gender.

death rates by gender

CDC report, 2012


Urban Institute Report, March 2015:

Death Rates for US Women Ages 15 to 54

Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Nutrition researcher by necessity: life-long migraineur, complete hysterectomy, colon resection, glucose intolerance. (I have become my mother.) Former food industry communicator. Digital maven; motorcyclist; educator.


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