Why do Americans die younger than Britons?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Why do Americans die younger than Britons?
20
Mon, 07-11-2011 - 10:11am

Why is that so many in the US are against the proposed healthcare bill or even a more equitable healthcare system?

I know life style can't be legislated but shouldn't more emphasis be put upon a healthy likestyle? Meanwhile many schools are cutting PE & sports activities for "lack of funds".

Any thoughts, ideas?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14070090

Graph

New life expectancy figures show Americans some way behind countries like Canada, the UK and Australia. Why?

Living in the world's richest country comes at a price, and it's measured in life years.

Men in the US are on average aged 75 when they die. That is 1.5 years younger than men in the UK and 3.5 years younger than men in Australia, says a new study.

American women live on average to just under 81 - about three years younger than the average Australian woman.

While life expectancy in the US continues to improve, says the report by researchers at University of Washington in Seattle and Imperial College, London, it is not increasing as quickly as in other Western countries, so the gap is widening.

"The researchers suggest that the relatively low life expectancies in the US cannot be explained by the size of the nation, racial diversity, or economics," says the document, which ranks the US 38th in the world for life expectancy overall.

"Instead, the authors point to high rates of obesity, tobacco use and other preventable risk factors for an early death as the leading drivers of the gap between the US and other nations."

"We weren't surprised that we had lower life expectancies than other countries, but we were surprised by the fact that we were falling further behind," says Dr Ali Mokdad, professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Take a country like Australia, he says. "It also has a nation of immigrants. It also is a relatively young country. It has similar socioeconomic characteristics.

"It has an obesity problem, and yet it has continued to improve in life expectancy and remains one of the healthiest nations in the world."

So how should the US address these risk factors?

Smoking alone is responsible for one out of every five deaths in the US, the professor says, yet the US has not been as tough as Australia in restricting tobacco advertising and public smoking.

Australia also has a greater focus on primary care - which helps with health education, and early treatment of any problems - and it has done a good job reducing the number of road traffic accidents, he adds.

The US could also save 100,000 lives a year by reducing salt in people's diets, since high blood pressure kills one in six people, Dr Mokdad says.

Then there's the big issue - about one in three adults is classified as obese. That's about 10 times as many as in long-living countries like Japan, according to OECD figures.

But the US is a big country, and while parts of Mississippi have a male life expectancy of 67, behind nations like the Philippines, women in areas of Florida live as long, on average, as the Japanese, who top the longevity rankings.

It is precisely this kind of inequality that goes some way to explain why the US - and the UK to a lesser degree - lag behind other countries, according to Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

He believes a more even distribution of wealth, even if the average were lower, could mean longer lives for everyone.

"I think stress is a part of it - this is the key thesis of Michael Marmot and his book on the status syndrome. People get worn out faster with greater inequality.

"However there is much more. If you have most health spending just going on a few people who have the best health to begin with - [as in] the US system - that is hardly efficient.

"In a more unequal rich country more doctors are working on things like plastic surgery. More dentists whiten teeth than fix bad teeth and so on."

Infant deaths

While it is not surprising that poor Americans lose out from inequality, Prof Dorling argues that the rich may suffer too.

"Top income groups are badly affected because their doctors are not necessarily mainly interested in their health but work for organisations that have to make an income," he says.

"I am not suggesting it is deliberate but you make more money out of a patient who spends more on many drugs and investigatory operations than one who lives longer with less intervention.

"In a more equal system the rich who are well get less intervention - and they live longer in the UK than the US."

Growing income inequality in the UK, since the 1970s, has has helped to push it down the European life expectancy rankings, says Mr Dorling.

However, life expectancy is not just about forecasts made for newborn babies.

When you look at life expectancy at 65, the US does perform well, says Svetlana Ukraintseva, research scientist at the Center for Population Health and Aging (CPHA) at Duke University in North Carolina.

Elderly Americans have a higher chance of surviving heart disease and many cancers than their counterparts in other rich countries, she says. Where the US lags behind is what happens at a much younger age. Infant mortality rates are high, she points out.

"So it's not the medical system itself that is the problem but access to it," she says.

"Medical insurance for all might help."

This is one goal of the healthcare reform signed into law in March 2010, which will oblige American adults to have health insurance when it comes into force in 2014.

However, this remains a controversial idea in the US and the legislation could yet come unstuck.

Challenges to the constitutionality of the law are working their way through the courts, and fierce opponents in the Republican Party make no secret of their desire to repeal the legislation if the opportunity arises.

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-27-2009
Thu, 07-14-2011 - 12:43pm
Yes, it takes making education more personal. Also, as you demonstrate, there is no incentive for people to change their schedules and take the time to attend a seminar even if it is free. That is exactly why when I hear "we need more prevention" I roll my eyes, it's available and people don't take advantage. Who really doesn't know that a Big Mac and fries is bad for you? Who doesn't know that smoking is directly related to lung disease? My point is if there is more education available, in the physician office, at the time when a patient is more focused on their health their health there may be an increase in the learning curve, also, my focus here is those already diagnosed with a chronic disease.
For the others, for TRUE prevention, and not just better disease management there needs to be a hook, an incentive that people can care about. No one thinks that bad things are going to happen to them, no one thinks when they sit down in front of the tv with their 6 pack and bag of chips that their behavior will cause coronary disease before the age of 50, and maybe even a heart attack.
That is the crux of what the Safeway CEO and Huckabee were talking about. You have to find incentive, and people don't see incentive.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-27-2009
Thu, 07-14-2011 - 12:35pm
Pretty sad isn't it. The statistics seem to say that the US's health care is inadequate, when what WHO is really measuring is if everyone is entitled to health care services.
That's why the data is so often used inappropriately.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 07-14-2011 - 11:22am
"The US loses a lot of ground simply because we don't have universal health care."

BINGO!!!

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 07-14-2011 - 11:20am
Education: Where I live we all have access to education about health. I attended one such seminar about cholesterol. Lunch was paid for by a pharm. co's rep. (There was no pressure about their specific product.) Lectures were by three local specialists then a question & answer session followed. There are approx. 2-3 of these free sessions every month, the only requirement is preregistration.

Eating healthy: How many inner city dwellers or people living in the sticks have access to a well stocked supermarket that we in suburbia?

Exercise: I mentioned previously schools cutting sports & PE. How many urban streets/parks are safe to walk/run? During the colder months I resort to the treadmill. :)

One can attempt to educate 'til your blue in face but people with bad habits will continue the cycle. Children need to be instilled with healthy habits, have exercise & healthy food available.

"I really do think the patient affordability missed the boat on this one. Preventing disease is a whole lot better a solution to cost containment in health care than cutting services."

I agree 100%.

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-27-2009
Wed, 07-13-2011 - 10:32pm
We also have a much more violent society.
You are correct, the WHO stats are misleading.
The US loses a lot of ground simply because we don't have universal health care. Not because are care is not up to any quality standard.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-27-2009
Wed, 07-13-2011 - 10:30pm
<"I'm not talking about check ups. They are nothing but a feel good intervention."

Having just had a check-up yesterday I found it both informative as to my present condition & positive that my healthy lifestyle was preventing a couple of conditions that could have worsened. Yes it made me "feel good" but it's essential to monitor one's status.>

I'm sure it did make you feel good, and I agree, these check ups are important to monitor ones status. However, you missed my point completely. Prevention of disease will always go a lot further than catching a disease in progress. Wouldn't you agree that it would be better if someone was never diagnosed with type II diabetes or heart disease secondary to obesity than to go into a program of having to monitor it? Wouldn't you agree that the financial benefit to health care costs would be significant, especially when you factor in just how much of our health care costs are related to preventable disease surrounding obesity, and smoking?

<"Now, when it comes to checkups to monitor a disease state and provide education (which is sorely limited and lacking)........"

I must have a great GP. We discuss issues & he answers all my questions.>

That is great for you. Not all GP's have the time or bother to provide a lot of education to their patients. I think that most Dr's do try. I've certainly had more that did than didn't, but a question and answer session is not the same as education, especially when there is chronic disease management needs and there is an attempt to cause lifestyle changes.

<"So far going to the Dr hasn't been very successful getting people to stop smoking, exercise or eat healthier"

What would you suggest to get the message across?>

That's why I suggested that you watch the video. It's about education and finding or providing incentive that actual makes a difference. The truth is, people don't make changes unless they have a personal reason. Now, for some that it easy, their family, themselves, the ability to continue to do their job. They can find it within. However, considering the obesity rate alone in this country, I think we can safely say that most people know that being overweight has detrimental effects on them, and will most likely decrease their life span and affect their quality of life, but they still can't put down the soda or cookies. Huckabee, as Gov. and the Safeway CEO both implemented plans that offered financial incentive to employees to eat healthy, exercise and stop smoking. The three activities that are known to affect a persons health in the present and future and that are under their control. They also offered education and programs in varying forms. They were able to decrease the cost of health care services for their employees while their employees improved their health status. The financial incentive can be cash, it can be reduced out of pocket cost for health care. It really doesn't matter, as long as it provides an incentive. A lot better option for cost containment than IPAD, don't you think? I'd much rather see a cutting of the need for services than cutting services.
I also think nurses and other health professionals could be better utilized in the physicians office to provide thorough education. Dr's simply don't have the time, nor is it a focus for them. As a group, they are notorious for their lack of communication. Insurance also does not cover this expense. It pays for sick care. The well care is a check up, not education. Most patients spend 15 minutes with their Dr. Even if it's 30 minutes, it's not enough time when combined with the actual check up for adequate education to take place when needed.


<"The one benefit of pharm commercials, they get the patient asking their Dr. questions."

I've heard more than one doctor comment negatively about patients thinking the pill commercial they saw on TV is the answer to a prayer.>

Hmm, you'll have to excuse my skepticism on this one, but if a Dr is complaining about a patient asking about a medication, regardless of what the patient thinks it may do for him, there is a problem. A patient that is not getting relief or seeing progress with their current treatment plan is going to seek out other treatment. That's a good thing. It's going to include meds seen on tv or in a magazine. That is not a bad thing. It allows for conversation between the patient and Dr. It allows for the Dr to further educate their patient, maybe their patient is seeking an outcome that just doesn't exist. It allows the Dr. to ask questions and be further educated by his or her patient about what is going on regarding their symptoms and allows the Dr. to consider treatment he or she hadn't previously done. Maybe there are new symptoms or changing symptoms that the Dr isn't aware of. Dr's aren't mind readers, and patients are all cut from the same text book page.
If a patient thinks the pill is an answer to their prayer, at least they are trying to involved in their care, asking questions, and seeking answers. To many patients just do as the Dr says and say little.
Another benefit of pharmaceutical ads; in the case where a Dr is still able to financially gain from supporting a specific pharmaceutical manufacturer, the patient forces the Dr to consider another product that the ones he or she is promoting to colleagues at conventions and most likely are the go to meds in the office.

I really do think the patient affordability missed the boat on this one. Preventing disease is a whole lot better a solution to cost containment in health care than cutting services.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
Wed, 07-13-2011 - 9:10pm
You'd need to consider the basis for the statistics. Many children who are considered infant mortalities in the U.S. are not counted at all in much of the rest of the world.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, and our people eat a lot of food. Our caloric intake is higher than most of the rest of the world.

We live in larger homes, and drive more via a large suburban highway network. This means we walk less.

Before we do anything, our country should assess the basis for all international statistics and adjust them as appropriate to be sure we are measuring the same thing the same way.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Wed, 07-13-2011 - 11:05am
I found this...........
>"What the researchers found
1)

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Wed, 07-13-2011 - 10:59am

I agree there's a lack of common sense in some of these cases.

Advertising directly aimed at children, even going as far as putting colourful sweetened cereal at a child's eye level on the shelves is exploitation, so is advertising during childrens' programming, is wrong IMO. I've seen children throwing a **** fit 'cause their parents wouldn't buy that cereal with the colourful cartoon figures on the box.

If someone can't afford a 6 cent tax per $, in my state, on a bottle of soda then they shouldn't be buying soda in the first place.

Most grocery stores have an entire isle hawking greasy salty chips, another isle with cereals, a further one entirely of soda & another with sweetened fruit juices. Then we wonder why people make poor choices. :smileysad:

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Wed, 07-13-2011 - 10:39am

"I'm not talking about check ups. They are nothing but a feel good intervention."

Having just had a check-up yesterday I found it both informative as to my present condition & positive that my healthy lifestyle was preventing a couple of conditions that could have worsened. Yes it made me "feel good" but it's essential to monitor one's status.

"Now, when it comes to checkups to monitor a disease state and provide education (which is sorely limited and lacking)........"

I must have a great GP. We discuss issues & he answers all my questions.

"So far going to the Dr hasn't been very successful getting people to stop smoking, exercise or eat healthier"

What would you suggest to get the message across?

"The one benefit of pharm commercials, they get the patient asking their Dr. questions."

I've heard more than one doctor comment negatively about patients thinking the pill commercial they saw on TV is the answer to a prayer.

 


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