During the last couple elections, there was a lot of talk about life expectancy and how Americans are not as competitive as we should be on global health rankings. Some politicians dismissed the data as myth. A new Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) report explains where we rank and why.
A lot of the difference between the U.S. and other countries is due to deaths before age 50. Younger Americans die earlier and live in poorer health than their counterparts in other developed countries. We have far higher death rates from guns, car accidents and drug addiction, according to a new analysis. Guns, car accidents and drug addiction are public health problems that are disproportionately killing Americans under age 50. Improving Americans’ health status will take public health solutions—health policy interventions, efforts to change health behaviors and strong support from leaders at all levels of government and the private sector.
I’m appalled that with all the resources we have in this country we should end up at the bottom for many of these critical health indicators. We know a lot about how to raise ourselves up. And people in public health can help. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We can do better.