Home > Lifestyle > Woman > News Updated 16 May 2013 Global life spans continue to lengthen People are living longer than ever and show no sign of slowing down, the World Health Organization says. 1 iStock Related Life expectancy tool Your chances of dying by 2023? Quiz Is my diet healthy? » 10 odours our noses can identify 6 body language mistakes to avoid People are living longer than ever and "dramatic" gains in life expectancy show no sign of slowing down, the World Health Organization said."The global life expectancy has increased from 64 years in 1990 to 70 years in 2011. That's dramatic," Colin Mathers, coordinator for mortality and burden of disease at the WHO, said as the organisation launched its annual world health statistics report."That's an average increase in life expectancy of eight hours a day over the last 20 years."Global life expectancy at birth was 72 years for women and 68 years for men in 2011. A 60-year-old man could expect to live another 19 years and a woman of the same age could count on another 21 years, two years more than in 1990.Drop in child mortalityMuch of the global increase is due to a rapid fall in child mortality over the past decade, as well as improvements in China and India, which have both seen a seven-year jump in average life expectancy at birth since 1990.Life expectancy has fallen in North Korea, South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Libya since 1990, a year that serves as the baseline for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.But everywhere else saw an improvement, or at least no change, in life expectancy at birth .Even countries where people live longest have managed to keep eking out a few more years, suggesting that humans have not yet reached a natural limit to their age. That has surprised some experts."In 1990 a 60 year-old (in a high income country) had a life expectancy of 21 years, and in 2011 it was 24 years. I think there were very few people who predicted that in 1990," said Ties Boerma, director of health statistics and informatics."So there's no real evidence that the increase is not continuing."Mathers said previous research had shown life expectancy grew by 2-2.5 years per decade in high-income countries during the 20th century, and the question of whether the gains might slow down was the subject of "a huge debate among the demographers".Global warming could change thingsThe latest figures show countries at the top end of the life expectancy scale, such as Japan, Australia and Switzerland, continue to make improvements."Presumably there will be some slowing down eventually unless gene therapy and all sorts of new scientific breakthroughs change that. Global warming and conflict and other things could change it also," Mathers said."Some people argue that increasing rates of obesity will start to impact on life expectancy but so far we haven't seen that. The improvements in other risk factors have more than outweighed any adverse effect of increasing levels of obesity in high income countries." More in Lifestyle Woman goes through hell with Implanon birth control implant More: WomanNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 1 comment Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Medical Butter may not be a health risk after all Medical Annual pelvic exams may not be crucial Medical South Africans to eat less salt as new law kicks in Medical African fermentation techniques help grow probiotics Medical Concussions strike 1 in 3 water polo players News South African play 'The Inconvenience of Wings' brings bipolar disorder into the spotlight From our sponsors Eat smart for a healthy heart with B-well’s Canola oil Put back what life takes out with StaminoGro! Win a Controlice® hamper worth R800 Is erectile dysfunction a taboo topic in relationships? Live healthier Caffeine and Kids » Good news! Coffee and wine may promote a healthy gut Daily caffeine may not push up your heart beat Health check: is caffeine actually bad for kids? Is there truth to the belief that coffee stunts children's growth or disturbs their rest? Yum! » Heat up some chicken soup Home-made soup is best for your bones How to make super-nutritious winter soups Soup is a great comfort food, especially in winter, but we need to make sure our soups contain the maximum amount of nutrients without providing too many kilojoules.