The term “longevity” is being used more and more, with more research and interest in how to increase life longevity, and what changes can we make, if any, to our day-to-day life to improve it.

Longevity is a very complex phenomenon. This is because an array of environmental, behavioural, socio-demographic and dietary factors can influence the physiological pathways of ageing and life expectancy (1). 

So, what exactly do we mean by the term longevity and what exactly are the factors that can influence it? We’ve got you covered!

What is longevity?

Longevity has a number of different definitions, including:

  • A long duration of individual life
  • Length of life
  • The capability to survive past the average age of death
  • Gerontologists use the term longevity to refer to any individual who is beyond the age of 90 and actively functional

It also comes from the Latin word longaevitas: longus means long, and aevum means age – together meaning, “long age.” 

Is longevity the same as life expectancy?

Longevity and life expectancy are often used interchangeably. They do tend to refer to two separate, although related topics, but the use for each is situation-dependent.

‘Longevity’ usually refers to a specific long-lived population, or members of a population – people who live longer than their life expectancy. Whereas ‘life expectancy’ refers to the average number of years a person may live.

However, when used synonymously, the concept of longevity can have a double meaning: individual longevity relates to long-lived individuals and population longevity usually described by the term life expectancy. 

Is there a limit to longevity? 

This is not entirely clear, but it’s possible. Caruso, C. et al. (2022) noted that demographic evidence shows a continued decrease in mortality in old age, in addition to a rise in the maximum age at death. Over time, this might extend human longevity. This, therefore, suggests that there are potentially no strict constraints that exist for human longevity. 

However, in saying that, survival improvements with age tend to decline after age, around the age of 100. The oldest person in the world, recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records, is Maria Branyas Morera, who celebrated her 117th birthday in March of this year.

Data of all Italians aged 105 or over between 2009 and 2015 was analysed and has provided proof of the existence of a plateau of mortality at extreme age. The information collected suggests that the maximum human lifespan is fixed and subject to natural constraints (5).

How does population longevity vary around the world?

Human longevity continues to increase on a global scale (3). There has also been a marked increase in life expectancy in the last century. The world has gone from having almost no countries with a life expectancy higher than 50 years to having many countries with a life expectancy of 80 years!

Although population longevity is rising overall, it varies a great deal around the world. More economically developed countries (MEDCs) have a higher life expectancy than less economically developed countries (LEDCs). For example, in 2019, the populations of MEDCs such as Australia had life expectancies which exceed 80 years, whereas LEDCs, such as the Central African Republic, had the lowest life expectancy of 53 years.

There are a multitude of reasons why this is the case, and as we are strong believers in health and nutrition education, we will be releasing an in-depth research piece into longevity in the early summer.

If you’re looking to learn more about longevity, make sure you keep your eyes peeled over the summer for this article!

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  1. Stefanadis, Christodoulos and Chrysohoou, Christina (2013) Longevity and diet. Myth or pragmatism? – PubMed, PubMed. Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2022).
  2. Definition of LONGEVITY (2022) Longevity Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster. Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2022).
  3. Ross Watson, R. and Karam Singh, V. (2014) Enhanced Longevity and Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Enhanced Longevity and Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids – ScienceDirect
  4. Institut Fur Demographie (2014). Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2013. Austrian Academy of Sciences.
  5. Caruso, C. et al. (2022) How Important Are Genes to Achieve Longevity?, MDPI
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