03 May 2006

The British Are Healthier

According to the Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA) via the Denver Post the British are healthier than the Americans:

Americans had higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and cancer . . . .

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

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-Latino 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 with 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 with 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.

Study authors note that a comparison of the English population as a whole, and the American population as a whole would have been even more unfavorable to the Americans, as Hispanics and non-whites in the U.S. fare more poorly on most health indicators than whites in the United States.

The newspaper article also fails to note the obvious difference between the U.S. and British healthcare systems, which is that the American system covers only 6/7th of the population, while the British system is universal. England also, even under more conservative governments, has generally been more liberal in its policies than most of the U.S., which could mean that differences in health and safety legislation between the two countries could be a factor.


Elaine said...

My guess would be that the British are simply less wedded to the concept of using a car to go everywhere. I wonder how a control sample of people from London versus people from New York City would look.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Interesting point.

Kyle said...

The smoking thing confuses me though. I feel certain americans actually smoke less than the English. I"ll have to look it up and see.