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America is unhealthy - and getting sicker all the timeJanuary 10, 2013 @ 10:16 am (Updated: 12:47 pm - 1/10/13 )
That's the bottom line of a report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. Both are independent, non-profit groups that advise the federal government on health issues.
"Baby's born in the United States are less likely to survive to their first birthday. The probability of a child dying before age five is higher in the United States," says Doctor Steven Woolf.
"Teenagers are less likely to live in the United States. Our death rates from homicide are seven times that of other countries," he says.
The USA ranks 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.
These poor outcomes are especially depressing, because the USA spends twice as much on healthcare - about $9,000 per person.
"We're spending lavishly on health care. We spend more on health care in the United States than any of these other countries do. So the issue is not lack of spending. It's perhaps how we're spending our money," Woolf says.
Americans' overall low health scores were mostly due to the poor health among minorities and low-income Americans.
Yet even wealthy, white Americans fare worse than their equally wealthy counterparts in other countries, Woolf says.
"The most extreme differences had to do with violence - homicides and shootings - and transportation injuries," says Woolf.
Although fewer Americans smoke and drink heavily, they have many other bad habits.
The report says we consume more calories per person, are more likely to abuse drugs, less likely to wear seat belts, more likely to be in a traffic accident, and are more likely to use a firearm in acts of violence.
By Linda Thomas
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