English more healthy than Americans...no one knows why

Just read this article. Thought I’d share. I went to England when I was 17…everyone thought I was 19 or 20. While back home they thought I was 16…I think the British have the fountain of youth somewhere and they don’t want to share…

CHICAGO (AP) – White, middle-aged Americans - even those who are rich - are far less healthy than their peers in England, according to stunning new research that erases misconceptions and has experts scratching their heads.

Americans had higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and cancer - findings that held true no matter what income or education level.

Those dismal results are despite the fact that U.S. health care spending is double what England spends on each of its citizens.

“Everybody should be discussing it: Why isn’t the richest country in the world the healthiest country in the world?” asks study co-author Dr. Michael Marmot, an epidemiologist at University College London in England.

The study, based on government statistics in both countries, adds context to the already-known fact that the United States spends more on health care than any other industrialized nation, yet trails in rankings of life expectancy.

The United States spends about $5,200 per person on health care while England spends about half that in adjusted dollars.

Even experts familiar with the weaknesses in the U.S. health system seemed stunned by the study’s conclusions.

“I knew we were less healthy, but I didn’t know the magnitude of the disparities,” said Gerard Anderson, an expert in chronic disease and international health at Johns Hopkins University who had no role in the research.

Startling new research shows no matter how rich or poor they are, middle-aged white Americans are much sicker than their counterparts in Britain. The A-P’s Jon Belmont takes a closer look.

Just why the United States fared so miserably wasn’t clear. Answers ranging from too little exercise to too little money and too much stress were offered.

Even the U.S. obesity epidemic couldn’t solve the mystery. The researchers crunched numbers to create a hypothetical statistical world in which the English had American lifestyle risk factors, including being as fat as Americans. In that model, Americans were still sicker.

Smoking rates are about the same on both sides of the pond. The English have a higher rate of heavy drinking.

Only non-Hispanic whites were included in the study to eliminate the influence of racial disparities. The researchers looked only at people ages 55 through 64, and the average age of the samples was the same.

Americans reported twice the rate of diabetes compared to the English, 12.5 percent versus 6 percent. For high blood pressure, it was 42 percent for Americans versus 34 percent for the English; cancer showed up in 9.5 percent of Americans compared to 5.5 percent of the English.

The upper crust in both countries was healthier than middle-class and low-income people in the same country. But richer Americans’ health status resembled the health of the low-income English.

“It’s something of a mystery,” said Richard Suzman of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study.

Health experts have known the U.S. population is less healthy than that of other industrialized nations, according to several important measurements, including life expectancy. The U.S. ranks behind about two dozen other countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Some have believed the United States has lagged because it is more ethnically diverse, said Suzman, who heads the National Institute on Aging’s Behavioral and Social Research Program. “Minority health in general is worse than white health,” he said.

But the new study showed that when minorities are removed from the equation, and adjustments are made to control for education and income, white people in England are still healthier than white people in the United States.

“As far as I know, this is the first study showing this,” said Suzman. The study, supported by grants from government agencies in both countries, was published in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Other studies have measured the United States against other countries in terms of health care spending, use of medical care and availability of health care services. But this is the first to focus on prevalence of chronic conditions, said Anderson, the Johns Hopkins professor.

Differences in exercise might partly explain the gap, he suggested. One of the study’s authors, Jim Smith, said the English exercise somewhat more than Americans. But physical activity differences won’t fully explain the study’s results, he added.

Marmot offered a different explanation for the gap: Americans’ financial insecurity. Improvements in household income have eluded all but the top fifth of Americans since the mid-1970s. Meanwhile, the English saw their incomes improve, he said.

Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health who was not involved in the study, said the stress of striving for the American dream may account for Americans’ lousy health.

“The opportunity to go both up and down the socioeconomic scale in America may create stress,” Blendon said. Americans don’t have a reliable government safety net like the English enjoy, Blendon said.

However, Britain’s universal health-care system shouldn’t get credit for better health, Marmot and Blendon agreed.

Both said it might explain better health for low-income citizens, but can’t account for better health of Britain’s more affluent residents.

Marmot cautioned against looking for explanations in the two countries’ health-care systems.

“It’s not just how we treat people when they get ill, but why they get ill in the first place,” Marmot said.

Rugger, tight shoes, and lashings of ginger ale! That’s the secret.

No, no it’s the fried mars bars and fried pizzas. Americans only have BBK and they don’t drink enough lager.

Well, I think we have smaller portions in the UK. Also, the ‘war’ mentality still proliferates. “Don’t eat too much, don’t take what you don’t want, and always clean your plate.” I was constantly told as a child not to pig-out. “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” “No-one likes a greedy pig,” these are common maxims handed out rote to our youth. The effect that rationing had on our nation may be a very large factor in all this.

There is obviously much much more to it than this, and cultural attitudes and the media must play a large part in the obesity problems in the US.

It’s the pork pies and jellied eels. :lick:

I would say the incredibly cheap, all-you-can-eat, buffet-style restaurants are a large part of the problem.

When the ex-wife and I used to visit Florida we saw the all-you-can-eat signs everywhere, and the people fequenting those places did, indeed, look like they had been eating all they could.

Regular sit-down-take-your-order restaurants are almost as bad. We went to Red Lobster once and I got a baked potato the size of a football, smothered in a pound of butter and half a gallon of sour cream. How much food do they think one person needs?

I have an American friend who drives to her mailbox everyday, that’s 10m!! :loco: Howabout walking from time to time?

Colonel Ripper was right. Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face. I mean have you ever seen a commie drink a glass of water? :wink:

I trust you’ve been keeping your natural fluids pure then.

Big Mac with XL fries and grande Coke and an extra serving of bacon for free 'cause you ordered an XL Coke. Would you like a sauce with that? Sour cream, butter? Salad dressing? :noway: :noway:

Sheesh! Darn restaurants with their big arsed portions and choices.

We stand no chance against the onslaught! :slight_smile:

In order to see where England will be in 20 years’ time just look at the States now. Clich

I think there are a few reasons for this circumstance and a number of posters have brought them up:

  1. mentality of food… The Dutch also have the don’t pig out, clean your plate old war mentality…your opa fed his family tulip bulbs blah blah blah
  2. Serving size… Have the servings size’s contributed to an obese population or have the serving size’s increased to cater for an ever expanding population.
  3. Attitude to exercise… I think this photo sums it up:
  4. I think a big factor is the amount of processed food and junk food as a percentage of the total food available. The cheapest food in America is extremely unhealthy and likely to be full of high cholesterol, simple carbohydrates etc… Also note that the chief cooking oil used in the US is palm oil from Malaysia which is extremely high in cholesterol and compare that with cholesterol free olive oil mainly used in the UK
  5. Money spent on school sports in the US is now split evenly between men and women’s sports whereas previously it was spent where the demand was.
  6. Bias: Were the results between UK and US independent? US doctors, physicians etc have a habit of over diagnosing and over prescribing.
  7. Climate. This is just a guess, but people in colder climates possibly burn more calories just trying to keep warm. I wonder if they looked at American citizens living between lattitudes similar to the US?

I think y’all are on the wrong track, because aren’t Britons almost as fat as Americans? I mean, the Brits are closer in lifestyle to obese North Americans than to svelte Continentals.

Within America, it’s the exact opposite. The fattest people are in the northern cities with cold winters like Philly and Detroit and the skinniest people are in South California. The weather is a factor in several ways: more opportunities to exercise with nicer weather, people wearing less clothes all the time so more of an incentive to keep the weight down, cheaper/better fruits and vegetables, etc.

Not necessarily. The skinniest city in America is New York, because you don’t really need a car and most people walk. The fattest city in America is Houston, I believe. People who live in the suburban sprawl of the huge, spread-out cities in Texas have to drive everywhere.

Precious bodily fluids, you mean. I’m what you might call a water man…

Did they include the Scots in this survey? Apparently not.

You see regular reports about how people north of the border smoke more, live on lard sandwiches and beer, never exercise, don’t get out of the bath to pee, etc. Comparing the whole of the UK to the whole of the USA might not yield the same results as comparing selected bits of both places.

While in San Diego, one of the healthy places, I met a European girl in a health food store one day. She was buying flour and other ingredients with the intention of making her own bread. Even in the healthiest part of one of the healthiest places you can’t buy decent bread in the USA.

Or maybe the problem is just that Americans are more religious! Wasn’t there a thread a while back about prayer being bad for you? Seriously, if you’re relying on God to sort out your problems instead of taking resonsibility for your own health…

Aside from the obesity factor and other obvious factors like that, I think there are other reasons:

  1. Holidays: Many Americans tend to work themselves to the bone and the payoff is a one or two week holiday per year. Compare that with the mandatory 1 month holiday in the UK. Not to mention that a lot of Americans that I know tend to use their holiday time not actually going away on a holiday, but rather remodelling the house, visiting family/relatives in other oarts of the country, and “catching up” on odd jobs around the house they have put by the wayside. Many of the Brits I know spend their happy hols abroad in one of the many countries they can get a great package vacation deal on.

  2. Stress levels: I grew up in the US and have also lived in England, where my husband is from. In the US, when people have problems, they are happy to rush off for counseling, get on medication, and then get completely stressed out about it (which, in turn, causes more mental illeness and warrants more meds). On the other hand, in the UK, where there is more of a pub culture, folks meet at the pub, chat about thieir problems over a few beers, and then everything seems better.

  3. Speaking of alcohol: I think that many Americans are uptight when it comes to drinking. The term “alcoholic” can be applied to almost anyone who enjoys a drink now and then. When I was at uni, students were called “weekend alcoholics.” Ridiculous. Relax people, have a drink with some friends, and watch your strss level decrease. There is nothing wrong with that. This is not the prohibition era anymore.

I have changed a lot since I last lived at home (10 years ago). I am a much more relaxed person now, and when I go home, I can only handle about 2 weeks of my family before I feel the need to leave. They can be so stressed out and hyper, and for no real reasons. They live in a small town; they are well to do; they have lots of family and friends around them, and have no real big “problems,” like health, money, etc. But little things set them off, the kind of things that Brits would laugh at. Many people at home seem really “touchy” and paranoid to me now.

Just my 2 nt.

Poor health is not a matter of short-term abuse.

American baby-boomers were the first generation raised on convenience foods (ask your pre-baby boomer-before 1946-parents or grandparents what they ate as children and compare it with your diet). As babies, we were fed such things as Gerber baby food, oversugared and filled with preservatives. American food products have been filled with additives and preservatives for decades, dumping chemicals, too much sodium and sugar and too many vitamins into the system. Add into this the GMOs and hydrogenated oils, and it’s pretty clear we’ve been slowly poisoning ourselves for 40-60 years. Consider that chronic food allergies were virtually unheard prior to WWII.

As for butter, eggs, and all those other gastronomic taboos, consider that such folks as the French eat these things regularly, and are comparatively healthy.

Middle-aged Americans may be the most unhealthy now, but I think it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world who buys American food products will also suffer as we baby-boomers do.

I’ve done lots of trips to the east and west coast of America and found people of all shapes and sizes and a reasonable culture of fitness.

I visited dusty, dirty and poor old Tyler in Texas and was shocked at the immensity of the population. There were normal people there for sure but they were outweighed by the big and bulky.

Some were so huge they should have had hazard lights attached and a warning beeper for when they back up.