News / Health

America's Health Report Card Shows Improvement Needed

America's Health Report Card Shows Improvement Neededi
X
July 10, 2013 5:12 PM
A new study of Americans’ overall health picture shows that Americans are generally healthier, but may be living with chronic disease longer and dying younger. VOA’s Carol Pearson looks at the contributors, chronic disabilities and risk factors to poor health and premature death.
Carol Pearson
A new study of Americans’ overall health picture shows that Americans are generally healthier, but may be living with chronic disease longer and dying younger. A look at the contributors, chronic disabilities and risk factors to poor health and premature death shed some light about what's happening.

If you ask Americans about health and life expectancy, they're pretty well informed.

"I believe Americans are living longer. I do not believe they are healthier,” said one woman.

“I don’t think Americans as a whole are very healthy,” said another.

These two people happen to be right, said Dr. Christopher Murray from the University of Washington.

“It turns out we’re living longer but we will spend more years with chronic disabilities of that extra life span,” he said.

Murray led a study that examined the major diseases and injuries that have contributed to poor health and premature death over the past 20 years.

The researchers found the biggest contributors to chronic disability include depression and anxiety, back pain, diabetes and lung diseases that block airflow and make breathing difficult.  

As for the greatest causes of premature death, topping the list are heart attack, stroke and cancer. The major causes of these diseases are smoking and eating too much of the wrong foods.

“680,000 deaths are attributable to poor diet. There’s still more than 400,000 deaths a year from tobacco, followed by obesity and then high blood pressure as the key contributors to ill health as risk factors," said Murray.

Air pollution also is a contributor. The National Institutes of Health says air pollution contributes to heart and lung diseases, and evidence points to long-term effects from air pollution on lung development in children.

The researchers also found that diseases related to aging, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse also are on the rise.

“There are also diseases that are on the rapid increase, things like Alzheimer’s, drug-use disorders, chronic kidney diseases, diabetes,” said Murray.

On the plus side, the study shows Americans generally are enjoying better health longer. That's due to advances in treating stroke, and certain cancers - including colon and breast cancers. Even so, the U.S. lags behind other wealthy nations in advances in population health.

The researchers would like to see more public health programs and interventions to encourage Americans to become more physically active, to make better food choices, to reduce the use of alcohol and tobacco, and to decrease the amount of pollution in cities.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 11, 2013 1:28 AM
I looked into the life expectancy rank of this year in the world and found that US is 79 years old which is ranked at 33 among 194 entrys equal to Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark and Bahrayn. I think it should be careful when estimating US life expectancy because I heard more than a half of population is not originated at present. I would like to know the expectancies of each ethnics respectively. Life styles including foods, exercises and tastes would be not a little different between the ethnics.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid