When the Today show's genial weatherman Al Roker started wishing happy birthday to folks when they reached their 100th birthday, passing that milestone was a rarity. Today, more than 300,000 people worldwide claim the title centenarian. By 2050, the United Nations predicts that the number of people aged 100 or older will reach 2.2 million, or one in every 5,000 people.
Where are the largest centenarian populations located?
Currently, the United States holds the record for largest number of centenarians in the world, followed by Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. However, the world's oldest populations are expected to shift over the next half century. According to UN predictions, by 2050 the largest centenarian populations are projected to be located in:
- China 472,000
- United States 298,000
- Japan 272,000
- India 111,000
While it only ranks third in number of predicted centenarians, by 2050 Japan is expected to have the world's highest population density of citizens 100 years old or older. Other countries where centenarians are on the rise include Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, and Singapore.
Why do some people live longer?
Genes and lifestyle choices seem to play a role in determining which of us will someday inhale deeply and try to blow out 100 flaming candles (or more!) on an iced sheet cake. When communities with a higher-than-average number of centenarians are discovered, scientists rush to survey the scene, hoping to find the modern-day equivalent of the Fountain of Youth. Shortly thereafter the press will extol the virtues of yogurt or soy or daily mountain hikes or whatever seems unique about the newly discovered long-lived community; but the reasons one person lives longer than another are still a mystery to be unraveled.
Check in next time when centenarians share tips on living longer. In the meantime, download our free guide, Remaining Active: How to Begin a Regular Exercise Routine to learn how you can improve your physical, mental, and emotional health as you age.
Photo: Joey Gannon