Americans Unhealthier Than People in Other Wealthy Countries

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A new report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Academies has us a little worried. American women are dying younger and getting sicker than women in other affluent countries, reported the UK's Guardian. Commissioned by the National Institutes of Health, the study tracked the health of people in the United States and in 17 other wealthy countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom from the late 1990s through 2008. What they found was that time and again, the U.S. didn't measure up to its peers. Even the wealthiest Americans, who have the most access to healthcare and treatment, aren't an exception. Overall, the life expectancy for Americans is lower and dropping, especially for women. American women are living a startling 5.2 years fewer than Japanese women, who live longest.

There are nine specific health areas where the United States is lagging: low birth weight, infant mortality, drug-related deaths, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, lung disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, heart disease and general disability. Deaths from injury, homicide and drug use is much higher in the U.S. than the comparison countries and are responsible for the majority of deaths in infants, children, teens and young adults. Also troubling is the fact that United States is leading in rates of infant mortality and other poor birth outcomes, such as low birth weight. These birth statistics means that Americans start out unhealthier than peers in other wealthy countries and are set up for a life of health problems.

But even if drunk driving is removed from the reporting, HIV rates in the U.S. are the second-highest of industrialized nations and AIDS rates are highest. Other lifestyle choices are also to blame. Climbing rates of type 2 diabetes in adults over age 20 are dangerously contribute to the sobering statistics.

What's most upsetting about the recent report is the United States already spends twice as much money per capita on healthcare in the world, about $9,000. While that doesn't seem to be enough, it does seem to help in some ways; the United States leads in its care of the elderly. Adults over 75 are likelier to live longer and fare better when it comes to health issues like high blood pressure and stroke. The United States also boasts fewer smokers than than peer nations.

Researchers hope the study will spur

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