The Other I

July 13, 2011

Why don’t Americans live longer?

Filed under: Cultural Differences,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 2:59 pm

People in the United States spend more on medical care than any other country in the world.  Why don’t we live longer than the average person in Great Britain, in Canada, in Australia, or in Japan?

According to a recent report carried out jointly in America and Britain, not only is there a significant gap between us Americans and many other countries.   The researchers were surprised to discover that the gap is actually getting bigger.

Just as surprisingly, the explanation does not seem to lie in economic factors.  It is not the poor who are pulling down the average for the middle and upper classes in America.

The biggest contributors seem to be life style factors.  America has exceptionally high rates of obesity, stress, and smoking, high levels of salt in our diets, and alcohol and other drug abuse.

Interestingly, it might also be because Americans spend so much on specialist care to the neglect of primary care.  Even the middle and upper classes in America may not be getting their money’s worth because so much more money can be made by doctors specializing in things like plastic surgery than in more basic but less exotic areas.  The irony is that Obama’s health care plan really might benefit everyone – even those who can already afford expensive health care.

 There is some encouraging news.  Women in Florida have life expectancies equal to those of Japanese women, which makes them among the highest in the world.

I have the sneaking suspicion that the lifestyle of women in Florida might bear some examination.



  1. The portion sizes in the States are HUGE compared to the UK. If people think it is “normal” – or if indeed it IS “normal” to eat that amount, then the obesity crisis is unsurprising.
    And the car culture can’t help.
    Do you think the women in Florida are fit and thin? Or do they live stress-free in the sunshine? I don’t know.


    Comment by sanstorm — July 13, 2011 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  2. Could it also be that the subset of Floridians includes a significant number of “snow birds” who relocated after retirement, thus already having lived longer and healthier lives than average American women? It would be an interesting study!


    Comment by Noreen — July 13, 2011 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

    • Yes, it really would be an interesting study, wouldn’t it? especially since some of the variables at least are almost certainly going to be environmental. I must say, up until now, I’ve never thought of women in Florida as a particular source of wisdom. But they must know something.

      Thank you for the suggestion!


      Comment by Terry Sissons — July 13, 2011 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

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