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medium America Is Number One (At Obesity, STDs and Dying Young)

Among wealthy, developed countries, that is. According to a , Americans are “far” unhealthier than their counterparts in Canada, Australia, Japan, Britain, France, Portugal, Italy and Germany and eight other countries. But just how bad is it?

Well, Americans ranked last (or first, depending on how you look at it) in infant mortality, injury and homicide rates, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, drug abuse, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and disabilities. But don’t worry, we managed all this while spending $8,600 a year per person on healthcare, which is more than twice as much Britain, France and Sweden, “even with their universal healthcare systems.”

And the numbers are worse for younger Americans.

“It’s a tragedy. Our report found that an equally large, if not larger, disadvantage exists among younger Americans,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, chair of the department of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, who chaired the panel.

“The size of the health disadvantage was pretty stunning,” Woolf told reporters in a telephone briefing.

And, not to make everything about guns but: “Americans are seven times more likely to be murdered than people in the other countries, and 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun.”

Who’s to blame? According to the study’s authors, American culture in general is at fault.

“We have a culture in our country … that cherishes personal autonomy and wants to limit intrusion of government and other entities upon our personal lives,” Woolf said. “Some of those forces may act against the ability to achieve optimal health outcomes.”

It’s clearly not pollution or some other outside factor, said Ana Diez Roux, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, who served on the panel. “It seems to be a whole bunch of things acting together,” she said.

“Something fundamentally is going wrong to cause our country to lose ground against other high-income countries,” Woolf added.

It’s not all terrible news for Americans, though; the old US of A has the highest cancer survival rates and the lowest cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Basically, it’s a great spot to live if you’re old: “Americans who reach age 75 can expect to live longer than people in the peer countries,” the report reads.

But if you’re young, well, you should probably just move to France: “I don’t think most parents know that, on average, infants, children, and adolescents in the U.S. die younger and have greater rates of illness and injury than youth in other countries,” Woolf said.

[//Image via AP]


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