TODAY   |  July 11, 2013

Survey: Where you live can affect how long you live

NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports on two studies making headlines: one by the University of Washington that reveals that where in the U.S. you live can affect how long you’ll live, and another that reports that artificially sweetened sodas and foods don’t help with weight loss.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> first a new study that diet soda drinkers aren't going to like one bit. nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman is back with details. good morning to you.

>> hey, matt.

>> the headline seems to be that diet sodas and foods with artificial sweeteners may be just as bad for people as the real deal like regular sodas.

>> this is not a great study but adds to the increasing volume of work that we know that just because you use artificial sweeteners doesn't mean you can get by with consuming fewer calories. there is pretty good research that this may change how we in fact crave sweets. the artificial sweeteners are sweeter than actual sugar. so when you consume them as artificial sweeteners your body almost wants sweets and craves them in a different way.

>> it is not that they have calories because they don't.

>> they have no calories.

>> it is that you then go off and crave other sweet things .

>> correct.

>> and eventually gain weight.

>> right. there is a pretty good base out that just because you consume these doesn't mean you'll be healthier and there may be a link to diabetes, obesity, etcetera. they are not a cure-all. let's be real. whether a real soda or diet soda it is a treat and you should not have even one a day. a couple weeks maybe.

>> let's go to another study making headlines from the university of washington , a big study. basically on the health of this nation. you can find some good news. we're living longer than we did 40 years ago.

>> right.

>> i find mostly really disturbing news in this study.

>> this is a real indictment of american health care . to compare us globally we rank 34 behind other industrialized nations and if you track it down and look at county by county in the united states this is almost death by zip code . men in mclean, virginia will live almost to 81 years of age. but if you go 350 miles to west virginia , mcdowell, west virginia , the average life span is in the mid 60s which is like equal to gam bia, west africa . we are looking at real health care disparities. there is a poverty issue, a racial issue. coming back to food --

>> we understand women have a longer life expectancy than men yet the same county by county situation occurs when we look at women.

>> yeah. women live longer in marin county , california and they live, you know, shorter life spans through most of the south.

>> places like kentucky. much shorter life span .

>> unbelievable.

>> it is economics, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and obesity.

>> when you look at that difference of 85 years to 72 years you can't just explain that based on simple math. you have to sort of say, what are the demographics there? and certainly poverty and food insecurity make a big difference. i want to talk about the access to really good medical care . people who are poor, people who are hourly wage earners can't necessarily take the time off to get to the doctor. they're in rural areas so they don't have the same quality medicine anyway. and when you're hungry, people who have been starving before have said to me don't tell me to eat an apple. i know that. you know what? that doesn't fill me up. a snickers bar might. until we really get to this food insecurity we're not going to battle this. increasingly there are some cool programs out there. there's something called the fear food network in the midwest. it's when people take their foodstamps to farmers markets and for twice the face value of the foodstamps they get real food. that is how we'll change this in this country.

>> i encourage people to read this study or at least part of it.

>> it is so great.

>> it will really open up -- a lot of it is obvious and they probably know it but it is still shocking to read.

>> death by zip code .

>> nancy snyderman , thank you very much.

>> you bet, matt.