Shorter lives, poorer health
People choose risky behaviors that bring about disease, death
Rising health care costs and an expanding obesity pandemic are forcing leaders around the world to consider drastic measures to improve public health. In New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on 16-ounce sodas will go into effect later this month. In Europe the Hungarian government recently passed a law to tax foods high in fat, sugar, and/or caffeine. If successful, the tax of 53 cents on these foods will raise approximately $100 million per year for health care costs. Although similar initiatives are under consideration by many governments, none of them seem appealing to the general public.
People should be able to eat and to drink (and be merry) as they please, right? In the United States, the home of the free, the answer to that question should be a resounding yes. Recent medical research, however, suggests some intervention may be worth consideration. Earlier this year the Institute of Medicine released a report titled “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.” The authors analyzed health data of high-income countries from the past four decades. Their findings further define the great American health care paradox: Even though the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and spends more money on healthcare, Americans are unhealthy and die at younger ages.
Compared to other high-income countries, consider the following findings in the report with regards to U.S. Health:
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