The New York Times (1/10, A3, Tavernise, Subscription Publication) reports that a study by a panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council found that deaths before the age of 50 “accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy between males in the United States and their counterparts in 16 other developed countries, and about one-third of the difference for females.” The panel referred to the “pattern of higher rates of disease and shorter lives” as “the US health disadvantage,” noting that the panelists were “surprised at just how consistently Americans ended up at the bottom of the rankings.” Americans has the second highest death rates of lung disease, heart disease and the highest diabetes rates. Additionally, “Americans also had the lowest probability over all of surviving to the age of 50.”
The report claims that Americans “have a long-standing pattern of poorer health that is strikingly consistent and pervasive” over the course of their lifetimes, and the “tragedy is not that the United States is losing a contest with other countries…but that Americans are dying and suffering from illness and injury at rates that are demonstrably unnecessary,” writes USA Today (1/9, Szabo). Steven Woolf, a researcher who directs the Center for Human Needs at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and the chair of the panel that wrote the report, said the report’s purpose is to warn Americans about its findings. The report found that 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.” CNN (1/9, Wilson) reports that “America does rank well in some health measures.” The US “has higher cancer survival rates, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lower smoking prevalence rates than many of its peer countries. Those Americans who make it to age 75 will survive longer than their peers in the comparison countries.”
— “For Americans Under 50, Stark Findings on Health, “Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times, January 9, 2013.