obesity

John Galt Kills Americans

The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine yesterday released the results of a study addressing mortality in the United States as compared to other developed nations. The full report can be purchased here, where a summary also can be downloaded as a free pdf file. The press release on the study frames the questions addressed:

On average, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in other high-income countries, says a new report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.  The report finds that this health disadvantage exists at all ages from birth to age 75 and that even advantaged Americans — those who have health insurance, college educations, higher incomes, and healthy behaviors — appear to be sicker than their peers in other rich nations.

“We were struck by the gravity of these findings,” said Steven H. Woolf, professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and chair of the panel that wrote the report.  “Americans are dying and suffering at rates that we know are unnecessary because people in other high-income countries are living longer lives and enjoying better health.  What concerns our panel is why, for decades, we have been slipping behind.”

From the summary, we have this long explanation of the causes of high US mortality, where I have added emphasis:

The panel’s inquiry found multiple likely explanations for the U.S. health disadvantage:

• Health systems. Unlike its peer countries, the United States has a relatively large uninsured population and more limited access to primary care. Americans are more likely to find their health care inaccessible or unaffordable and to report lapses in the quality and safety of care outside of hospitals.

• Health behaviors. Although Americans are currently less likely to smoke and may drink alcohol less heavily than people in peer countries, they consume the most calories per person, have higher rates of drug abuse, are less likely to use seat belts, are involved in more traffic accidents that involve alcohol, and are more likely to use firearms in acts of violence.

• Social and economic conditions. Although the income of Americans is higher on average than in other countries, the United States also has higher levels of poverty (especially child poverty) and income inequality and lower rates of social mobility. Other countries are outpacing the United States in the education of young people, which also affects health. And Americans benefit less from safety net programs that can buffer the negative health effects of poverty and other social disadvantages.

• Physical environments. U.S. communities and the built environment are more likely than those in peer countries to be designed around automobiles, and this may discourage physical activity and contribute to obesity.

No single factor can fully explain the U.S. health disadvantage. Deficiencies in the health care system may worsen illnesses and increase deaths from certain diseases, but they cannot explain the nation’s higher rates of traffic accidents or violence. Similarly, although individual behaviors are clearly important, they do not explain why Americans who do not smoke or are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease than similar groups in peer countries.

More likely, the U.S. health disadvantage has multiple causes and involves some combination of inadequate health care, unhealthy behaviors, adverse economic and social conditions, and environmental factors, as well as public policies and social values that shape those conditions.

What stands out to me is that the list of reasons Americans die early overlaps significantly with the social goals of right-wing libertarians who worship Ayn Rand and John Galt. Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @AndyMcCanse Entire attack now on whether Bernie is realistic ignores that part of ACA history (which also legitimized Tea Party). @lhfang
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bmaz In the 60s, Bernie was marching with MLK against segregation; while HRC was a Young Republican Goldwater Girl https://t.co/ljDNVNn9SS
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bmaz So Clinton is attacking @BernieSanders on black/racial issues? Really? https://t.co/9Pui9Szk26
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emptywheel @AndyMcCanse has been ignored. There was a critical moment in 2009 when insurers playing both sides to harmful effect @lhfang
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emptywheel @AndyMcCanse I RTed it bc in discussions of whether ACA was all we could get, degree to which ins people in on deal also ran oppo @lhfang
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bmaz @ggreenwald Good thing there is nothing establishment here.
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emptywheel RT @bradheath: Here's the full #DOJ complaint against the City of Ferguson. https://t.co/yRAVhuLruK https://t.co/gcFFuXURnJ
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emptywheel RT @lhfang: Jill Alper, a "Hillblazer" fundraising for Hillary, is a superdelegate. Her firm was hired by health insurers to undermine Obam…
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JimWhiteGNV RT @_FloridaMan: Florida Man Ordered to Stay Away From Animals After Throwing Live Alligator Through Wendy’s Drive-Thru Window https://t.co
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bmaz @benjaminwittes @csoghoian For my money, think you both would be better for it. And can I come?? I promise to just drink and stay quiet!
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bmaz @benjaminwittes @csoghoian well, you both are quite decent people even if fundamentally disagree on many things.
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bmaz @benjaminwittes @csoghoian Passionate people get ahead of themselves sometimes It runs both ways. (I do it about every day) All should chill
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