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Lifestyle main factor in determining longevity, Americans say - CBS News poll

Lifestyle tops the list as the most important factor when determining how long a person will live, according to a recent CBS News poll. A person's lifestyle comes out far ahead of a person's genes (19%), their emotional well-being (16%) and economic status (13%). Fewer Americans (4%) think that where a person lives is the determining factor in a person's longevity. 

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Lifestyle is the top choice across demographic groups, including age, gender and education. Although those over age 45 are a bit more likely than those who are younger to say a person's genes are the most important factor in determining how long a person will live.

But what is considered old anyway?  

There is little consensus among Americans on what age range is considered old, although most don't think a person is considered old before they are 60 years old. Most Americans start thinking of people as old when they enter their sixties: 27% think people in their sixties are old, 28% say that about people in their seventies, and 24% of Americans don't think people are considered old until they are in their eighties. 

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Different age groups perceive things differently.  Four in 10 younger adults – those under age 30 - think of people as old by the time they are in their fifties. As people grow older, they're more like to think of "old" as an age that is older than they are. Most Americans who are age 65 and over don't think people are considered old until they are at least in their seventies, including 40% who don't think someone is old until they are in their eighties.

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Most Americans would not want to live forever even if they could

If it were possible, would you want to live forever? Most Americans would not, but a third of Americans say "yes" —  they are on board for eternal life. 

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Living forever is less appealing to older Americans than it is to those who are younger. Nearly half — 46% — of those under age 30 would live forever if it were possible, but that figure drops to 26% among those ages 65 and over. 

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If not forever, what about 150 years old? Thirty-seven percent of Americans believe it is very or somewhat likely that within the next 100 years, some people will be living to the age of 150. Although most do not think it's likely people will be reaching their sesquicentennial within the next century. 

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Going under the knife 

About a quarter of Americans say they would consider cosmetic surgery in order to make themselves appear younger. Most, however, say they would not consider taking that step. 

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Women are more than twice as likely as men to say they would consider cosmetic surgery to attain a more youthful appearance. And it is women between the ages of 30 to 44 who are the most likely to consider cosmetic surgery.

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The CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,650 U.S. adult residents interviewed between November 12-16, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ± 3 points.

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