Are the British Healthier Than Americans?

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A study finds that Americans have poorer health from birth through old age than British people. Plus quick tips on how to improve health. England has a bad reputation when it comes to the health of its citizens. In fact, it is considered the least healthy nation in Europe. All the more alarming then that a new study shows that Americans have poorer health than the British. Researchers used data on nearly 40,000 residents of the United States and 70,000 residents of England taken from national health surveys.

When they started looking at numbers, the research team found that Americans had higher rates of nearly all chronic diseases than people of a similar age in England. Here are some of the statistics from the study:

–American women had significantly higher rates of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack or angina than English women of a similar age.

–12% of American girls and 11% of boys aged four to 11 are obese, compared to seven percent in England.

–More than 17% of U.S. boys and girls aged 12 to 19 have asthma, compared to about eight percent for English teens.

–More than 13% of Americans of all ages have asthma, compared to 6.5% of Brits.

–18% of people in England are obese, compared to 29% of Americans.

–22% of Americans aged 12 and up have high cholesterol, compared to 16% of their peers in England.

So what health advice can the researchers offer? They suggest that a lot of the blame for America’s poor health may lie with the economy. Americans make up just five percent of the world’s population, but they represent more than half of every medical dollar spent on the planet. Despite all this investment in health care, many Americans still don’t have access to health care. American life expectancy is near the bottom of rankings that include European nations.

The researchers suggest that American workers generally have less protection from losing their jobs, and when they do, they get lower unemployment benefits. Americans can expect unemployment benefits to replace 48% of lost wages compared to 78% in the United Kingdom, 81% in Germany and 95% in Sweden.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. also has higher poverty rates. Among children, for instance, in 2005, 21% of children in the United States lived in poverty(!), compared with 10% in the United Kingdom, four percent in Sweden and eight percent in France. The researchers noted that the precariousness of U.S. social safety nets may mean less security and more stress — factors that can affect health significantly.

No matter what your financial circumstances, it’s important to safeguard your nutrition health. No matter what happens in your life, try to eat healthy foods full of lots of nutrients to boost your health and see you through to better times.

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