‘Americans live sicker, die younger’

A new report finds that US citizens live sicker and die earlier than people in other rich countries.

A new report shows that citizens of the United States live sicker and die earlier than people in other rich countries and that the trend is getting worse over time.

The report, which was conducted jointly by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine and released on Wednesday, found that Americans “have a long-standing pattern of poorer health that is strikingly consistent and pervasive” over a person’s lifetime, USA Today reported.

“The tragedy is not that the United States is losing a contest with other countries, but that Americans are dying and suffering from illness and injury at rates that are demonstrably unnecessary,” the report stated.

The report also found that the health disadvantage spans all ages from birth to 75 and that even wealthy, white Americans fare worse than their equally wealthy counterparts in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan and several other Western European countries.

“We were struck by the gravity of these findings,” said Steven Woolf, professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

He noted that the report’s most important purpose was to alert Americans to these problems.

“Our sense is that Americans don’t really know about this… I don’t think people realize that their children are likely to live shorter lives than children in other countries,” said Woolf, who chaired the panel that wrote the report.

According to the report, the US ranked at or near the bottom in nine key areas of health: low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and general disability.

“Many of these conditions have a particularly profound effect on young people, reducing the odds that Americans will live to age 50,” the report pointed out, adding that “for those who reach age 50, these conditions contribute to poorer health and greater illness later in life.”