A recent study by the United States Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council reveals that the health conditions and life expectancy rates are the worst in America, compared with other high-income countries. Old people are dying younger in America than other old people; young people under 50 die younger in America than other young people; and for those that don’t die young, life is not a healthy experience either. 17 countries were reviewed in this study, and America reported the lowest life expectancy for men, and came in 16th place for women.
According to the detailed research, Americans lead a deplorable lifestyle in terms of diet, exercise, cholesterol and other health matters. But, what’s worse is that most of the reasons for the bad rating don’t have anything to do with health at all. The main reasons why America is behind every other country on the list are violence, alcoholism/drugs and driving accidents. Violence is largely stemming from gun violence, alcoholism/drugs from the irresponsible habits developed at a young age, and driving accidents have a lot to do with drunk driving. These problems are most common among Americans under 50 for whom the life expectancy is about 75 years.
Another significant issue complicating the matter is healthcare in America. While we spend more than any country on healthcare per capita, more people still tend to stay uninsured in America. This shows that the larger ecosystem surrounding healthcare is a problem due to poverty and income inequality. Americans on average are richer than their counterparts around the world, but the gap between the rich and the poor is wider in the U.S. than in any other country included in this list of “high-income peers.”
The countries compared were Japan, Canada, Australia, Germany and others from Western Europe. Japan ranked first with a female life expectancy with an average of 85.96 years and Switzerland topped the list for men with 79.33 years. These numbers really put our country, our lifestyles and us in perspective. All these years, I have commonly heard that people in Europe drink prolifically, the legal drinking age is not enforced and a culture of alcoholism is prevalent. However, now the effectiveness of our “21+ only” alcohol policy must now be questioned. What else needs to be questioned? Our gun laws, because we had the highest rate of suicide by firearms. Also, the spike in teenage pregnancies needs to be addressed.
We often here all these terms like “obesity epidemic,” “gun epidemic,” etc. floating around and never really know what they mean. And then these numbers come about and we wonder, weren’t we the world’s best country not so long ago? Why are we falling down every chart – whether economy, health or technology? Why are our friends in Congress not taking faster and sharper action? Why should I be more likely to die young that my friends in Canada and Germany?