Study tracks who's living longer

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - How long do you expect to live? According to a new study, it may depend on where you call home!

Researchers looked at counties and cities from coast to coast. Some people in northern Virginia are living longer than most!

Life expectancy in Petersburg is among the lowest in the country. People who live there tell me it's not surprising at all.

Lee Fields is 70-years-old. According to a new study, the Petersburg man should be dead.

"What is your secret?" asked NBC12 reporter Tara Morgan.

"I took care of me," replied Fields.

Researchers from the University of Washington tracked longevity trends across the United States from 1987 to 2007. Petersburg had one of the lowest life expectancies for men in the country, just 66 years.

In Richmond, the life expectancy for men is 69, it's 78 for women. Chesterfield men are expected to live to 75, while women get a few more years, at 79. In Henrico, it's 76 for men, versus 80 for women.

Fairfax county's men had the longest life expectancy in the country at 81. Women there live to be 83.

"Fairfax: they eat better. Their housing there is better - everything there. Ain't nothing in Petersburg. This is where you come to die," said Fields.

Researchers cited several possible reasons for why people aren't living as long in some areas, including rising obesity rates.

"Health care not available to everyone," said Charles Allen.

Allen moved to Petersburg in 1983. He's 60.

"So according to this study you've got, what 6 years left," asked Tara.

"Something like that," said Allen.

He's been on disability ever since a stroke in 97.

"I try to take care of myself. What you know about health and health issues has a lot to do with it too," said Allen.

Fields, who has a teenage son, also had a stroke 14 years ago. Fortunately he didn't lose his mobility, or his sense of humor.

"Look good for 70 year old;. You want to have an affair with me," said Fields.

Researchers found places with high life expectancy include counties in Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, California, Washington state and Florida.

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