Thu
Jan 10 2013
01:42 pm

Per today's Wall Street Journal:

Americans die younger and have more illnesses and accidents on average than people in other high-income countries—even wealthier, insured, college-educated Americans, a report said Wednesday.

The study by the federally sponsored National Research Council and Institute of Medicine found the U.S. near the bottom of 17 affluent countries for life expectancy, with high rates of obesity and diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease and arthritis, as well as infant mortality, injuries, homicides, teen pregnancy, drug deaths and sexually transmitted diseases.

"Possible explanations" cited by the authors after the jump.

The authors offered a range of possible explanations for Americans' worse health and mortality, including social inequality. They also described criticisms including limited availability of contraception for teenagers, community designs that discourage physical activity such as walking, air pollution and access to firearms, as well as individual behaviors such as high calorie consumption.

The U.S. health-care system wasn't spared criticism, with authors describing it as fragmented, lacking sufficient primary-care physicians and posing financial barriers to millions of Americans who lack insurance or are unable to afford out-of-pocket medical costs.

The new report noted that average life expectancy for American men, at 75.6 years, was the lowest among the 17 countries and almost four years shorter than for Switzerland, the best-performing nation.

American women's average life expectancy, 80.8 years, was second-lowest among the countries and five years shorter than Japan's, which had the highest expectancy.

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