British Health Outweighs US
Americans may have healthier teeth but Britons have healthier bodies
May 11, 2006 8:52 PM
The assumption could be made that Americans would be at least as healthy as their British counterparts considering that we spend twice as much on per capita health care. Instead, wealthy middle-aged white Americans are about as healthy as the poorest Britons.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Americans had much higher instances of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other life threatening diseases.
“Americans are much sicker than the British,” wrote Michael Marmot in the conclusion of the published study.
While Americans spend $5,274 per person on health care per year, Britons spend on average $2,164 per person. Yet, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease rates were at least twice as high in the United States.
The study looked at white, non-Latino, Americans and Britons between the ages of 55 and 64 who were at varying socioeconomic levels.
SF State health education professor Ramon Castellblanch took issue with the researchers’ methodology.
“It’s an odd way to do a study,” said Castellblanch. “Your saying that non-Latino Caucasians are the only people who are important.”
The researchers contended in the study that they only looked at middle-aged white people in order to counter any argument that health discrepancies were based on racial differences in the two countries.
Castellblanch said there have been other studies and indicators that have shown that British people are healthier than Americans.
Two such indicators are longevity and infant mortality, both of which are better in Britain, according to the Organisation [sic] for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In fact, the United States ranks 29th in the world for life expectancy.
Castellblanch pointed to several possible factors for the relatively poor health of Americans.
“You can start with the fact that they have universal health care and we don’t,” he said.
“But, something else is going on besides the health care system and other things that you can easily put your finger on,” Castellblanch said, suggesting that a person’s overall sense of well-being and security are also extremely important factors when it comes to leading a healthy life.
SF State holistic health professor Erik Peper agrees that lifestyle is extremely important to health.
“We live in a culture of malnutrition,” Peper said. “We have a super abundance of food with many micro-nutrients missing.”
Peper thinks that Americans’ physical immobility and lack of social support networks also contribute to our poor health.
Peper added a lighthearted quote that he uses to open his holistic health class at SF State.
“It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies: The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians or Americans. The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians or Americans. The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians or Americans. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadian or Americans. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausage and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Canadians or Americans.
"CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.”
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