Who's Living Longer in the World and Why?
The report said that the United States ranks around 40th in the developed world for longevity (that means people in places such as Cuba, South Korea, and Hong Kong can expect to live longer than us).
Something even more surprising is that the gap between the U.S. and other developed countries is getting LARGER, according to the report. The reason the U.S. is falling behind is because younger people (people under 50) are dying at a faster rate than their peers in other developed countries–this is despite the fact that the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country (by a long shot).
There is a video that summarizes the findings that you can watch here: U.S. Health in International Perspective. So, what is going on?
When compared with the average of peer countries, Americans fare worse in at least nine health areas:
- Infant mortality and low birth weight
- Injuries and homicides
- Adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
- HIV and AIDS
- Drug-related deaths
- Obesity and diabetes
- Heart disease
- Chronic lung diseases
While there are many things on this list that we can think of changing, the one area that jumps off the page at me is obesity and diabetes. Diabetes alone is associated with around 230, 000 deaths every year and costs around $174 billion dollars. Not to be outdone, obesity is estimated to cost around $147 billion.
The key to understanding why obesity and diabetes are such a problem is to understand that most people don’t actually die from either condition but from the diseases associated with these conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and certain cancers—and the numbers here are even more astounding.
But the real point I want you to take away from reading this is that both obesity and type 2 diabetes are almost completely avoidable if you eat right, are at a healthy weight, and exercise regularly. You have it in your hands to make changes that will impact your future health.
I don’t like being last in anything—how about you? We have access to all we need to lead healthier lives and move up that longevity list! So make a pledge with me TODAY to put you and your health on the right path. Put on your walking shoes—and take an apple along for your snack. See you out there.
Jamie McManus, M.D., FAAFP
Chair of Medical Affairs, Health Science, & Education View other posts by Dr. Jamie >
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