Study: US falls behind in life expectancy

The U.S. is falling behind Europe and other industrialized countries in life expectancy despite spending at least 50 percent more per person on healthcare, according to a new study.

The study from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is likely to rekindle the debate over Democrats' healthcare reform law, which aims to provide insurance coverage to millions more Americans while shifting to preventive care. 

The U.S. ranked 37th in the world for life expectancy in 2007, according to the study, with 860 counties, mostly in the South, showing stagnant or declining trends between 1997 and 2007.

"We are finally able to answer the question of how the U.S. fares in comparison to its peers globally," Christopher Murray, the center's director and one of the paper's co-authors, said in a statement. "Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per capita than any other nation on health, eight out of every 10 counties are not keeping pace in terms of health outcomes. That's a staggering statistic."

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Population Health Metrics.