Healthwise, US falls behind other wealthy nations

July 10, 2013 2:47 pm
View of the entrance to the UCLA Medical center in Los Angeles, California/AFP
View of the entrance to the UCLA Medical center in Los Angeles, California/AFP

, WASHINGTON, July 10 – The United States spends more per capita on health care than any place in the world but lags behind other wealthy nations in health and life expectancy, according to research published on Wednesday.

Japan still leads the world in terms of living the longest, with average life expectancy at 82.6 years in 2010, up from 79.1 years in 1990.

Americans are living longer too an average of 78.2 years compared to 75.2 two decades ago but were outpaced by other developed nations as the US ranking for life expectancy slid from 20th to 27th in the world.

Americans are also living with more health problems, ranging from chronic back pain to depression, said the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Disease and disability account for nearly half the health burden in the United States, and poor diet, smoking, high blood pressure and physical inactivity are leading risk factors, it said.

“Individuals in the United States are living longer but are not necessarily in good health,” said the study, called “The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors.”

The research is based on data from 34 countries and includes estimates for death and disability from 291 diseases, conditions and injuries.

The United States spends twice as much as France on its average health care per person nearly $8,000 per capita in 2009, for 17.4 percent of US GDP according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But France ranks much higher than the United States for life expectancy ninth in the world with an average age for both sexes combined of 80.9.

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