For all of our sophisticated medical care, Americans can expect shorter lives and more health troubles than the people of other well-off nations, according to a new report. And that's not just true of infants and poor people, the groups usually pinpointed as particularly vulnerable to health issues; it is also the case for the affluent, teenagers and middle-aged people. Some of this can be traced to a lack of preventive and primary care, some to car accidents and violence, some to obesity and poor health habits. The United States clearly cannot rest on its past laurels; nor can it expect medical laboratories and research hospitals, for all the lifesaving work they do, to solve the problem.
The new report from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine brings more expansive research and a more detailed eye to the subject than previous studies that have reached similar conclusions. The study compared data from 17 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan and many Western European nations. Among those nations, men in the United States had the lowest life expectancy and women the second-lowest.
A series of related charts vividly details various problem spots, including higher rates of death from heart disease, diabetes and car accidents. Death rates from maternal conditions related to pregnancy are three times higher than those in the other countries — as are deaths from violence.