A recent report from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine made headlines when it pointed out how unhealthy Americans are compared with 16 other wealthy, developed nations: Australia, Canada, and all the nations of Europe. This report is nicely summarized in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA February 27, 2013, vol. 309, pp 771-772) The following is a precis of this report. I might add that no cause was found for our lowest ranking in health and highest ranking in death rates.
Until age 75, we have the highest death rate, compared with those other countries, but if we reach age 75 then we have a higher life expectancy.
We have higher rates of disease and injury especially in motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol.
US infants are least likely to reach their first birthdays, compared to the other 16 countries.
We have lower birth weights, and mortality rates up to age 5 are also higher.
US teenagers die at a higher rate from motor vehicle crashes and homicides.
US teenagers also have the highest pregnancy rate and the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. They are also the least likely to practice safe sex.
We have the highest incidence of AIDS.
We also have the highest obesity rates and the highest rate of adult-onset diabetes, as well as the second highest rate of death from ischemic heart disease.
US patients are more likely to return to the emergency room and to be readmitted after hospital discharge.
We are less likely to smoke and drink, but we are more likely to abuse drugs and not fasten seat belts.
We have the highest child poverty rate.
Even our wealthiest white citizens have a higher mortality than matched adults in other countries.
And no one reason or cause seems to explain our unhealthiness, especially since we pay more per capita on health care than do any of the other industrialized democracies.