Americans Live Longer, but not Healthier Lives
The life expectancy of American has gone up from 76.8 years in 2000 to 78.5 years in 2009, according to the United Health Foundation report, “America’s Health Rankings,” which provides an evaluation of the nation’s health condition. However, Reed Tuckson, MD, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs of UnitedHealth Group, reports that people are living sicker from chronic disease and preventable diseases.
The pooled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Medical Association, Census Bureau, and the Dartmouth Atlas Project shows that while deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer have been decreasing due to the availability of medical care, more people are suffering from obesity (31%), diabetes (28%), and hypertension (10%).
Other findings show that more than a third of American adults do not exercise and one-fifth of the population smokes cigarettes. It is estimated that by 2030, half of the population will be obese. Researchers also found that the number of children living in poverty has increased by 35% in the last decade, leaving them to have less access to good nutrition and preventative and restorative medicine.
Tuckson says that the overall health of the nation can be improved if the fundamental risk factors for preventable diseases can be addressed. Advocates believe that although progress has been achieved in the treatment of infectious disease and cancers, more work has to be done to reduce the risk for chronic diseases.
Efforts are underway to improve the health of the nation, as more employers are helping to promote their workers’ wellness by encouraging exercise in the workplace. The American Medical Association has launched the Weigh What Matters program, a phone application which encourages patients to work on their healthy eating habits, weight, physical activity goals.
Pittman, D. People Living Longer but Not Healthier Lives. MedPage Today.