Money doesn’t guarantee health. Even though the US spends more on health care than other countries, they are less healthy than people in comparable countries and have a shorter life expectancy, according to a report by the US national Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.[i] The US loses more years of life to alcohol and other drugs. Many of these health problems disproportionately affect children and adolescents. US teens have the highest rate of pregnancies of affluent countries and are more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases. Deaths from injuries and homicides are higher than in comparable countries, as is obesity.
Kids in wealthy countries suffer from obesity and lack of exercise. Obesity levels doubled in every region of the world between 1980 and 2008, contributing to increased rates of diseases such as cancer and diabetes, according to the World Health Organization.[ii] The highest obesity rates are in English-speaking countries and Mexico.[iii] The health costs associated with about 12 million obese American children are huge, including the increase of diabetes. Childhood obesity rates have climbed in the US for 30 years, with the exception of cities like New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that developed programs such as standards for healthy foods in school cafeterias. Overeating junk food and lack of exercise contribute to the fact that American men ranked at the bottom of life expectancy and women only one step from the bottom in a 2011 study of 17 industrialized nations. The gap has widened in the past three decades rather than improved.[iv]
[i] “Americans Have Worse Health Than People in Other High-Income Countries,”National Academy of Sciences, January 9, 2013.
[ii] Simeon Barnett, “Global Obesity, Hypertension Rates Rise, WHO Says,” Bloomberg.com, May 16, 2012.
[iii] “Why Are 6 of Top 7 Fattest Countries English-Speaking Ones?” Medical News Today, September 24, 2010. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/202473.php
[iv] Jim Toedtman, “Face the Mortality Gap,” AARP Bulletin, March 2013.