Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Americans - Sick Limey Bastards?

` Another bonus post drafted from May!

` Yes, the Americans are so sick, in more than one way.... A 2006 study compared the health of 8,000 white Americans and Englanders between the ages of 55 to 64 years old and found that the Americans are amazingly less healthy than the Englanders, despite having better private health insurance, etc!
` The authors were shocked to find that diabetes was twice as common in the US as England, that cancer was 70% more common, and heart disease was more than 50% more prevalent.
` Furthermore, the Americans in the healthiest, highest-income and best-educated bracket had the same rates of heart disease and diabetes as the poorest, least healthy bracket in England.
` Yeah, of course that seems likely if you don't control for certain aspects, but even when groups of equivalent obesity, smoking and drinking were compared, there still wasn't much of a difference.
` So even that stuff doesn't matter much? Okay... that's just outrageous!
` James Smith of the RAND corporation in Santa Monica (and senior author of JAMA) said that "it seemed implausable" at first. "We did not expect to find this."
` What on earth could be causing it? Is it the way we live? For other countries that are copying the lifestyles of the U.S., Smith cautions that "It may be a warning signal."

` Another study, however, shows that hypertension is 60% higher in Europe than it is in Canada or the U.S., meaning that the real picture may not be as exaggerated as it looks.
` So, were the people who took the health surveys just complaining more about their health? Since blood samples from another 7,600 people were studied for levels of cholesterol, blood glucose, etc, match up with the survey results, that seems unlikely.
` Smith says that; "All the easy answers are not what is going on. It's something more fundamental."
` But what?
` Perhaps the obese Americans had been that way for longer than the obsese Englanders in question - that was not noted in the study. And if the Americans had had worse health as young children, it could have easily led to poorer health by now. It could even be that Americans are a lot more stressed out - that really does make such serious diseases more likely to occur!
` So, says Smith, we should be able to figure out how to keep people healthy on this dreary side of the Atlantic: "The United States should be able to achieve the health of the English. It's not an impossible goal."

` Isn't that just crazy? And another thing I'm familiar with and annoyed about: The fact that there is
a higher percentage of obsese Americans than Englanders - which makes sense because Americans typically eat a lot more than Europeans. (In fact, Lou Ryan and his friends have had the opportinuty to amaze Englanders, etc. with how much they normally eat in a day!)
` It is an unfortunate thing because from what I can tell, people were meant to be fat, if they could be sometimes, but not obese!
` And according to The Lancet Infectious Diseases 2006; 6:438-446, obesity apparently weakens the immune system, making people suffer even worse from common infections while at the same time heightening their chances of catching more rare infections!
` So, they're at a higher risk for heart disease and a whole lot else, and their immune system is depressed? Sucks to be both obese and American!

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