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Aubrey de Grey – [poor nutrition takes a big toll on your lifespan, but excellent nutrition only adds small benefit compared to an average one]

The quote is from this video:

As always, keep track of the context. This is just a quote from a longer conversation, by a scientist working one specific angle in the longevity battle.

I absolutely endorse the idea that we need to do the best we can for the population to get them to an average level of nutrition. But I think the critical thing to understand is “average”.

If you ask about the difference in terms of health expectancy and life expectancy between the middle 10% of the population and the bottom 10% – that’s a large difference. That’s something Bruce is trying to do something about: if the poor won’t eat fruit, that then we give them multivitamins and so on.

But if you look at the opposite end of the spectrum, at the difference between the middle 10% and the top 10% in terms of health expectancy and life expectancy, it’s basically nil. Of course, I’m factoring out the genetics here; I’m talking about the things that we can modify.

That’s really important to remember. Because it’s so easy, from the popular press and so on, to get the impression that if you just do what your mother told you to do really well, you know if you get a really good diet a lot of exercising and you never drink anything and you never smoke – then you’re actually going to live 20 years longer than you otherwise would. Well in fact, the message of all of the data we have, epidemiological or anything – is that it’s probably closer to 2 years, if that.

An example I’d like to give is a very simple one: looking at national life expectancies. People laugh at the USA a great deal because of the fact that it sits and something like number 45 in the table of longevity among the industrialized world, despite the fact that you guys spend far more per head on the medical care than anybody else. But if you look at the absolute numbers, and you look at the actual difference in number of years of the live expectancy between the USA and the number one big country namely Japan, it’s only 4 years.


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