Perhaps it’s a combination of stunning scenery and active lifestyles: Whatever the reason, new statistics show that people living in Western Norway enjoy the longest lifespans in a country already known for high longevity. Residents of Aukra in the western county of Møre og Romsdal, for example, live an average eight years longer than people in Hasvik in the far northern county of Finnmark.
Folks in both places enjoy relatively high longevity, of 83.35 years in Aukra, for example, and 75.05 in Hasvik. And the latter had the lowest average longevity in Norway. The next-lowest average lifespan was still 76.85 years, in the community of Bygland in the southern county of Aust-Agder.
Figures detailing longevity were compiled by the state health institute (Folkehelseinstitutt) and show fairly wide regional variations. “There are differences in lifestyles between, for example, Vestlandet (Western Norway) and Finnmark, Østfold and Hedmark (in the north and east),” Camilla Stoltenberg, director of Folkehelseinstitutt, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
Stoltenberg pointed to smoking as the single most important factor that affects longevity statistics. She said longevity is closely tied to education and economic levels, and those with higher education and incomes stopped smoking earlier than those with lower levels of education and income. In addition to the high longevity found in West Coast counties and Akershus, which surrounds Oslo, smoking can still be more likely in outlying areas, although Stoltenberg said that now nearly all Norwegians are stumping out cigarettes.
“That’s very positive,” she told NRK, noting that mortality rates among men especially are leveling off. “If you look at risk factors collectively (like smoking, alcohol consumption, being overweight and physically inactive), they will clarify more than 90 percent of the variations in mortality rates among men.”
Overall, Norwegian men can now expect to live to an age of over 78 and women to an age over 82, according to the statistics. That’s up 30 years since 1900, a trend linked to declines in infant mortality, higher standards of living, better housing and nourishment, vaccine development and vast improvements in health care services. After Aukra, the next highest lifespans were found in Naustdal in the western county og Sogn og Fjordane (83.1 years) and Tydal in Sør-Trøndelag (83.1 years.)