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U. S. Health is Lagging Behind

Sep. 27, 2013|1454 views
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Yesterday I mentioned a recent report, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in August. The stated objective of the report was broad and sweeping: “To measure the burden of diseases, injuries, and leading risk factors in the United States from 1990 to 2010 and to compare these measurements with those of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.”


OECD includes virtually all the countries in the developed world, including most European countries, Australia, Israel, Great Britain, and Scandinavia. Today, I thought I’d dig a little deeper into this landmark report, to provide an overview of health status in these United States, in the context of progress in rest of the developed world.


First, as I mentioned yesterday, there’s some good news. Air pollution is significantly lower now than it was in 1990, and fewer people are suffering from air pollution-related deaths and illnesses as a result. Life expectancy is also up, by three years, since 1990.


But on other measures, we lost some ground when it comes to the health of our people, compared to health outcomes in other nations around the globe. From 1990 to 2010, among the 34 countries of the OECD, the health of the U.S. people has improved only gradually, despite massive expenditures on healthcare, compared to other nations. Far from being number one in health, we’re falling farther behind.


“...By every measure, including death rates, life expectancy, and diminished function and quality of life...US standing compared with 34 OECD countries declined between 1990 and 2010,” wrote Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD, in an analysis of the report, also published in JAMA.


Fineberg HV. The state of health in the United States. JAMA. 2013 Aug 14;310(6):585-6. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.13809.


US Burden of Disease Collaborators. The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA. 2013 Aug 14;310(6):591-608. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.13805.


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