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View of the entrance to the UCLA Medical center in Los Angeles, California/AFP

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Healthwise, US falls behind other wealthy nations

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“The United States spends more than the rest of the world on health care and leads the world in the quality and quantity of its health research, but that doesn’t add up to better health outcomes,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and one of the lead authors on the study.

“The country has done a good job of preventing premature deaths from stroke, but when it comes to lung cancer, preterm birth complications, and a range of other causes, the country isn’t keeping pace with high-income countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.”

A separate study by IHME, an independent research organization at the University of Washington, in the journal Population Health Metrics, found that Americans are exercising more than they did at the start of the century but obesity is still rising.

“As physical activity increased between 2001 and 2009, so did the percentage of the population considered obese,” the group said in a statement.

Among US men, obesity prevalence was 26.1 percent in 2001 and 32.8 percent in 2009, a rise of 6.7 percentage points.

For US women, obesity prevalence was 28.7 percent in 2001 and 35.1 percent in 2009, a change of 6.4 percentage points.

“It’s quite disappointing that the US is falling behind in outcomes for diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, and especially those diseases with preventable causes,” said cardiologist Robert Rosenson, director of cardiometabolic disorders at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“We need to make a major effort to make better lifestyle choices daily based on diet,” he added. “The costs due to poor eating and disabling health conditions are overtaxing our society.”

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