Why is the U.S. falling behind in life expectancy?


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Check out this graph. Each line is the life expectancy of the world's best countries and America is the dot.
Notice how we are falling down the line.

We are getting better, but at a lower rate than other countries. WHY??

.


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The reintroduction of gray wolves into our national parks. So far the Parks Service has been able to cover up all the deaths but it's only a matter of time until the lame-stream media starts to pick up on it.


Because we ration health care by money.


thejeff wrote:
Because we ration health care by money.

So, America has less money than the other countries? I thought America

had more money, more doctors, more medical schools, etc.

.


Electric Wizard wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Because we ration health care by money.

So, America has less money than the other countries? I thought America

had more money, more doctors, more medical schools, etc.

Not America as a whole. Individual Americans. And we ration based on the individual's ability to pay. Or to buy insurance.

With a number of more and less effective programs and laws to catch those that can't.

The countries that are doing better have committed themselves to providing care to their whole population.


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smoking and obesity.

go figure.


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corn subsidies, urban blights, less access to reasonable quality healthcare, poverty without as much of a safety net. Getting stuck living with rats and eating ramen noddles 3 times a day will take its toll.


Religion. Why is it so hard to accept that "% of population that considers religion important in their lives" correlates inversely to high longevity, high education level, and high quality of life? Most think the arrow of consequence goes Bad life -> Religion important. I think there is quite a lot of reason to think it goes the other way.


Policy recommendations

from "The State of US Health: Innovations, Insights, and Recommendations from the Global Burden of Disease Study"

link
Here


Lessee... nutritious food is expensive and junk food is cheap. Salaries for non-CEOs have stagnated while the rich keep getting richer and the price of food, rent and utilities keeps skyrocketing.

Half of the politicians in the country believe that effective health care is having Emergency Rooms for poor people to go to AFTER they have suffered a major catastrophic health emergency, and that an overpriced, insurance-company-run health system that prices out the majority of the people working their bodies the hardest represents "the greatest health care system in the world!"

And the very same poor people who cannot afford health care or decent food are the very ones who work their bodies the hardest. Not to mention that American work ethic of working yourself to death for a pittance.

It's as if some rich Rockefeller thug read A Christmas Carol, saw Scrooge's methods as a great way to get himself rich, and sold the notion of working like Bob Cratchit until you die as The American Dream. Which, when you read up enough about Rockefeller and his fellow "business barons" of the time, you find out is not far from the truth.

Didn't help matters that the country for too long worshiped the Puritans (easily amongst the worst people to have a hand in settling this country), who truly held the work-till-you-die-miserably edict as the highest ethic attainable.

In short, we were screwed from the beginning, and this country needs a big, wet, thick enema.


cheap, nutritious food.

it does exist.


Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

cheap, nutritious food.

it does exist.

Much of which is hard to find in our urban food deserts.

They're also often more expensive than the less healthy equivalents (brown vs white rice, for example).

And, probably more importantly, we're not bombarded by advertisements telling us to eat them all day long.


Thing is... if you're doing worse than the rest of us, there needs to be a reason for that. In some way, these factors you bring up have not hit other rich countries to the same degree. Saying "McDonalds" isn't answering the question.


Sissyl wrote:
Religion. Why is it so hard to accept that "% of population that considers religion important in their lives" correlates inversely to high longevity, high education level, and high quality of life? Most think the arrow of consequence goes Bad life -> Religion important. I think there is quite a lot of reason to think it goes the other way.

I think your cause and effect relationship is a little reversed there.


Uh-huh.

Except that if religion has a strong enough influence, religious people will have the power to actively sabotage education through hypothetical moronity like "intelligent design", abortions (which forces young women who don't want to raise a child to either go through risky illegal abortions or have the child, and the dominant reason for not wanting to have it is because they don't have the money to handle it well enough), stop vital research into various things that religious people go anal about, such as stem cells, and so on and so forth.

Now, according to you, it's damn lucky none of that is more than hypothetical, right?

I admit, the arrow does go both ways. The churches know splendidly well that if quality of life goes down, they get more people who think religion is important. Thus, they have a deeply seated, vested interest in making sure quality of life goes as far down as it possibly can.


It's probably a combination of quite a few factors. Food in the USA is incredibly cheap compared to other countries and average American portion sizes are noticeably larger than many other nations, which is something that is less widely-known. This and the private health care attitude ("If I have a heart attack I will pay for it!") creates a situation where healthy eating simply has a tougher time getting traction as an idea. Also, from what I understand, fast food is even cheaper than the American norm, making it more attractive.

In the UK - which I suspect is ahead of the USA on the list (it is general health care terms), though not by a huge amount - this is not quite the case. Our portion sizes are somewhat smaller and we have no 'super size' portion options. Most notably, fast food is often more expensive than other options: a large McDonalds meal will set you back about £5, whilst a (usually) healthier sandwich/snack/drink deal from a shop will cost about £3. Healthy eating is also more strongly promoted here because of the public health care situation: an obsese person is costing every taxpayer money, not just themselves (there is also a certain social stigma attached to people who are obsese and/or smoking because of this, though it varies greatly in notability and effectiveness around the country). Fast food has been banned from school kitchens here for about a decade now, which also helps. We still love fast food, don't get me wrong, but more for the convenience and speed than the cost, and a lot of poor people simply can't afford it.

However, it's not just down to the individual. Food preservatives and flavourings contain more fat and salt than they used to, to the point where people can be eating the exact same meal their parents ate thirty years earlier and ingesting a lot more cholesterol as a result. That's something that the food standards authorities need to deal with more effectively.

Obviously that's not the only factor. The lack of availability of universal health care definitely plays a role, as do factors like more sedantry lifestyles and growing commuter belts: we are living further and further from where we work and resorting to cars or public transport rather than walking or cycling to work. There's also the anti-vaccination movement, the impact of which is probably very low on a large scale but has still resulted in more than a thousand avoidable deaths in the USA alone since 2007. In the bigger cities things like pollution and even stress (even low-level stress can be medically problematic if constant over many years) play their role, and are also issues shared with other countries.

The Exchange

Sissyl wrote:
Religion. Why is it so hard to accept that "% of population that considers religion important in their lives" correlates inversely to high longevity, high education level, and high quality of life? Most think the arrow of consequence goes Bad life -> Religion important. I think there is quite a lot of reason to think it goes the other way.

As an atheist who considers most aspects of religion harmful and sometimes even seemingly moronic (talking about religion in general and not about anyone specific, people, I'm not trying to offend anyone), I still disagree with your statement here. While religion could have a non negligible impact on any number of things which in turn would lead to a lower life expectancy, without some serious factual evidence I would never consider calling it the only reason, or even the chief reason, for the US slowly plummeting down the life expectancy chart.

Other reasons that were named here in this thread and that are known as social trouble the US is having - an unhealthy lifestyle coupled with the difficulty for most people to secure any sort of reasonable medical treatment - and I consider them to be stronger candidates to explain the phenomenon.

I would, however, argue that religion is one of the forces that work against U.S becoming a more socially inclined country that takes care of it's citizens, as well as (maybe more importantly in the long run) impeding some seriously important scientific work from being done, such as experiments on human Embryos. Thus, in an indirect way, religion could be said to have a very harmful effect.


thejeff wrote:
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

cheap, nutritious food.

it does exist.

Much of which is hard to find in our urban food deserts.

They're also often more expensive than the less healthy equivalents (brown vs white rice, for example).

And, probably more importantly, we're not bombarded by advertisements telling us to eat them all day long.

Compare the price of a bag of potato chips to a bag of potatoes.

food deserts challenged

also, compare the price of a pack of smokes and a six pack of beer to not smoking and drinking. It's a no-brainer, that.

Or evertbody can just keep blaming The Unfairness Of It All instead of doing something about their condition.


From the CDC:

food deserts

"Many scientific studies have suggested that food deserts may negatively affect health outcomes, but more research is needed to determine how access influences the types of foods consumers purchase and eat. Some researchers believe a link exists between access to affordable nutritious foods and the intake of those foods. However, other studies have shown that even after healthier food options are more widely available in food deserts, many consumers continue to make unhealthy choices based on personal preferences."


Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:


Compare the price of a bag of potato chips to a bag of potatoes.

food deserts challenged

also, compare the price of a pack of smokes and a six pack of beer to not smoking and drinking. It's a no-brainer, that.

Or evertbody can just keep blaming The Unfairness Of It All instead of doing something about their condition.

Or I suppose we can just wash our hands and blame the poor and unhealthy for their own problems.

I guess in that case, the reason life expectancy in the US is lagging behind the rest of the developed world is just that we have more stupid and irresponsible people. Nothing to be done about it.


usda study

"While considerable efforts were made to develop these data, measures, and
methods, different assumptions and measures are likely to produce differing
outcomes and conclusions when applied to the same data."

my favorite line.

re: "Or I suppose we can just wash our hands and blame the poor and unhealthy for their own problems. "

No, but the obverse of this platitude is more prevalent; this thread has numerous examples already. It's not that I simply choose not to follow the obverse because it is, in general, enabling to bad habits.

The obverse is simply too succinct, and therefore probably dangerously wrong.

Now, stop drinking Mountain Dew and Cheetos more than once every two weeks. Bring some lentil soup to your next gaming session.

See what everybody there says to you.....tell me if any of them live in a food desert.


Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

usda study

"While considerable efforts were made to develop these data, measures, and
methods, different assumptions and measures are likely to produce differing
outcomes and conclusions when applied to the same data."

my favorite line.

re: "Or I suppose we can just wash our hands and blame the poor and unhealthy for their own problems. "

No, but the obverse of this platitude is more prevalent; this thread has numerous examples already. It's not that I simply choose not to follow the obverse because it is, in general, enabling to bad habits.

The obverse is simply too succinct, and therefore probably dangerously wrong.

Now, stop drinking Mountain Dew and Cheetos more than once every two weeks. Bring some lentil soup to your next gaming session.

See what everybody there says to you.....tell me if any of them live in a food desert.

Well, since I've done that years ago, I'm not sure what to do next.

Yes, on a personal level, you're right: eating habits, exercise, not smoking and similar things are the best bet. On a country wide scale, just saying "it's personal responsibility" isn't going to cut it.

Especially if attempts to change those bad habits are treated as attacks on personal freedom. Even labeling fast food got huge amounts of pushback.

Maybe we do have more stupid, irresponsible people than other countries. Can we do anything about that?


RAND is studying the problem....

re: "Well, since I've done that years ago, I'm not sure what to do next."

Good on ya!

So, did it work?

re: "Maybe we do have more stupid, irresponsible people than other countries. Can we do anything about that?"

I don't agree with the "stupid" part; I don't have anything other than anecdotal to support the "irresponsible" part.

I just don't see the point of laying it all at the feet of "food deserts" like it is a no-brainer at this point. It's socially irresponsible.


RAND is studying the problem? Oh, well now I'm reassured.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Electric Wizard wrote:

Check out this graph. Each line is the life expectancy of the world's best countries and America is the dot.

Notice how we are falling down the line.

We are getting better, but at a lower rate than other countries. WHY??

Countries with great income gaps and a shrinking middle class generally have a lowered life expectancy. More families are malnourished, and access to maintenance health care is reduced. The United States is generally following the profile of nations with similar profile.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yes, America is rich. The problem is that the largest percentage of wealth is in the hands of about 1% of the population. Yes, that's a One. Sure as a country we have bucks, and the mega-rich use them while the rest of us, well, we just use the backdoor servant entrance...

The Exchange

Electric Wizard wrote:

Check out this graph. Each line is the life expectancy of the world's best countries and America is the dot.

Notice how we are falling down the line.

We are getting better, but at a lower rate than other countries. WHY??

.

USA needs free but compulsory medical care.


thejeff wrote:
RAND is studying the problem? Oh, well now I'm reassured.

Well, if you agree with their findings, then you'll have something more than baseless rhetoric to support your supposition.

If not, you can claim that the shadow government illuminati are just doing what nefarious shadow government illuminati do.

Either way it's a win.


Die, pinkskins, die!!!


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Die, pinkskins, die!!!

Die, Dwarf, die!!!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
yellowdingo wrote:
Electric Wizard wrote:

Check out this graph. Each line is the life expectancy of the world's best countries and America is the dot.

Notice how we are falling down the line.

We are getting better, but at a lower rate than other countries. WHY??

.

USA needs free but compulsory medical care.

If it was free it wouldn't HAVE to be compulsory. The main reason that most Americans don't get preventative health care is because they can't afford it.


Nutrition and access to doctors is important. But I think the main
component is lack of exercise. You guys are too fat.

.

Liberty's Edge

Sissyl wrote:
Religion. Why is it so hard to accept that "% of population that considers religion important in their lives" correlates inversely to high longevity, high education level, and high quality of life? Most think the arrow of consequence goes Bad life -> Religion important. I think there is quite a lot of reason to think it goes the other way.

Because it is a lie.

Liberty's Edge

Sissyl wrote:

Uh-huh.

Except that if religion has a strong enough influence, religious people will have the power to actively sabotage education through hypothetical moronity like "intelligent design", abortions (which forces young women who don't want to raise a child to either go through risky illegal abortions or have the child, and the dominant reason for not wanting to have it is because they don't have the money to handle it well enough), stop vital research into various things that religious people go anal about, such as stem cells, and so on and so forth.

Now, according to you, it's damn lucky none of that is more than hypothetical, right?

I admit, the arrow does go both ways. The churches know splendidly well that if quality of life goes down, they get more people who think religion is important. Thus, they have a deeply seated, vested interest in making sure quality of life goes as far down as it possibly can.

Your statements are all factually incorrect. Offensive too, but that is beside the point. You are making up several things and stating them like fact. Does not make them true. And just because a person has a different philosophy than you does not make their views moronic.


Charlie D. wrote:
And just because a person has a different philosophy than you does not make their views moronic.

Yes, it does.

.


thejeff wrote:
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

cheap, nutritious food.

it does exist.

Much of which is hard to find in our urban food deserts.

They're also often more expensive than the less healthy equivalents (brown vs white rice, for example).

And, probably more importantly, we're not bombarded by advertisements telling us to eat them all day long.

Just going to point out that there are only like 3 things on that list that I haven't seen at every grocery store I have ever been to, including Wallmart.

But many of them are significantly more expensive and/or time consuming than alternatives they are shelved next to.


Intelligent design is a way to not have to teach evolution in school, it has repeatedly been identified as such. And all because people think it's against their religion to think the world is more than 6000 years old.

Pretty much the definition of moronic.


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Charlie D. wrote:
[ And just because a person has a different philosophy than you does not make their views moronic.

That's true. Of course, just because that person has a different philosophy than you does not make their views not moronic, either.

In the specific cases of intelligent design, abstinence-only sex education and opposition to stem-cell research, the ideas can be independently shown to be moronic --- regarding intelligent design in particular, I refer you to Judge Jones' decision in the Kitzmiller case for a very cogent analysis, where he specifically identified ID as having "no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose." It specifically "stifl[es] the critical thinking that the class's study of evolutionary biology might otherwise prompt, to protect a religious view from what the Board considers to be a threat."

It further reflects an anti-intellectual approach whose mission is explicitly "to change the ground rules of science," in such a way that its own proponents acknowledged they would be unable to distinguish real science from astrology. That alone is pretty moronic. Creationists "distort an misrepresent scientific knowledge" in this process, which again is pretty moronic.


Electric Wizard wrote:

Nutrition and access to doctors is important. But I think the main

component is lack of exercise. You guys are too fat.

.

is there any indication that americans exercise less, or is it on the food end of things?


Tons of indication.

Liberty's Edge

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Sissyl wrote:

Intelligent design is a way to not have to teach evolution in school, it has repeatedly been identified as such. And all because people think it's against their religion to think the world is more than 6000 years old.

Pretty much the definition of moronic.

I agree that Christians who try to convince others to think the world is 6000 years old do not help the cause of telling others that Jesus saves and that God actively seeks to connect with every human being. However, at its core, belief in Jesus does require that even rational human beings believe in supernatural things. I get that not everyone can accept that and so following Jesus is not for everyone.

I was disagreeing more with your sweeping generalizations that all religious people do x and all churches do y. I love God, tell others that Jesus saves, I have a college degree, I'm middle class and white collar, and I believe the earth is billions of years old.

I believe the big bang likely started the universe, I simply believe God touched it off. I accept the Bible is not in any way a book of science, yet I am still amazed that ancient Hebrew writers realized that the sun is a created celestial body and not a god. They knew light and dark came before the sun and moon in a description close to the afterglow that followed the big bang which filled the darkness of the universe with light.

More importantly, I can get along wtih atheists, religious people of other faiths, New Agers, and more. Jesus pioneered the idea that all human beings are equal and that as His followers we should try to get along as long as it doesn't include us rejecting our belief in Him or dishonoring God.

I dislike being labeled and misreprented. That was my point.


Electric Wizard wrote:
Tons of indication.

Cause and effect isn't sufficient when there are multple potential causes. (in this case diet AND exercise)


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Charlie D. wrote:


I agree that Christians who try to convince others to think the world is 6000 years old do not help the cause of telling others that Jesus saves and that God actively seeks to connect with every human being.

It's worse than that, though. Those Christians not only do not help the cause, they're actively harmful to society.

Skipping a bit, you wrote:

Quote:
I dislike being labeled and misreprented. That was my point.

The problem, though, is that you're not being labelled and misrepresented. Let's look at Sissyl's statement again:

Quote:


if religion has a strong enough influence, religious people will have the power to actively sabotage education through [...] moronity like "intelligent design".

Let's unpack that for a moment.

Is "intelligent design" moronic? Judge Jones didn't use that exact term, but enough other observers have use similar language. He's specifically calling it out as an anti-intellectual tradition with no valid intellectual basis.

Does ID damage education? This question Judge Jones did answer explicity. Yes.

IIs the damage to education deliberate (i.e., is it sabotage)? Jones answered this one as well, and specifically showed evidence of planning. Yes.

Are the people behind this policy religious? Again, read Jones' opinion. Yes.

Are they doing it explicitly for a religious purpose? This was one of the basic holdings of the case. Yes.

Are they only able to do this because of the power and influence "religion" has in the community? Again, yes.

Nothing about this misrepresents the religious community -- and if you choose to stand up and claim the label of "religious," then the only person labeling you is yourself.

Quote:


More importantly, I can get along wtih atheists, religious people of other faiths, New Agers, and more. Jesus pioneered the idea that all human beings are equal and that as His followers we should try to get along as long as it doesn't include us rejecting our belief in Him or dishonoring God.

Not doing a very good job if you're coming in and defending intelligent design. The problem with that pseudocompromise is that you don't get to tell us what "dishonors God." The Dover defendants believed -- and presumably still believe -- that teaching evolution dishonors God. Sucks to be them. If you are seriously making an offer to get along with the rest of society only on a conditional basis, then I utterly reject your conditions and your offer.... and your beliefs as well.


Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nothing about this misrepresents the religious community -- and if you choose to stand up and claim the label of "religious," then the only person labeling you is yourself.

Well, this is the only part that i have an issue with. It only doesn't misrepresent the religious community who was pushing for that disclaimer to be enforced in that school, or for the people pushing ID as a way of pushing evolution out of public education.

How much of the religious population in America do you think that actually represents?


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Eben TheQuiet wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nothing about this misrepresents the religious community -- and if you choose to stand up and claim the label of "religious," then the only person labeling you is yourself.

Well, this is the only part that i have an issue with. It only doesn't misrepresent the religious community who was pushing for that disclaimer to be enforced in that school, or for the people pushing ID as a way of pushing evolution out of public education.

How much of the religious population in America do you think that actually represents?

100% of the people who complain that Sissyl's description of ID was "factually incorrect."


Orfamay Quest said it better than I would have. Thank you.

I just want to add that dishonouring God pretty much doesn't come into it. The problem is when RELIGIOUS PEOPLE dishonour God. Supporting teaching of evolution is apparently not done by religious people. Neither is the actual teaching. Hopefully, being taught evolution is not dishonouring God, right? So in the end it comes down to religious people not wanting contact with the theory of evolution - at the price of forcing everyone else to follow the tenets of their religion. That is the issue. Drop any such pretensions and there would not be cause for me to claim that religion is harmful to society.


Except that it's not "religious people" not supporting the teaching of evolution. It's certain subsets of religious people. There are plenty of religious people who are fine with evolution. There are even entire religions that have no problem with it. It's really a minority, even in the US. Admittedly a fairly large, loud and obnoxious minority that gets a lot of publicity, but still not all religious people.

Similarly with opposition to abortion, and even more so with abstinence-only sex ed and opposition to birth control, opposition to stem cell research, to gay rights and almost all the other things stupid religious things: Not all religions or religious people are united in their stupidity on any of these issues.

That said, there does seem to be a tendency for such policies to be more prevalent in more powerful religions. Whether that's because such policies help a religion become more influential or whether religions with such policies work harder at gaining political power or some other reason entirely, I couldn't sa.


Of all the stream of consciousness rambling from one subject to another i think this comes in third...


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
If you are seriously making an offer to get along with the rest of society only on a conditional basis, then I utterly reject your conditions and your offer.... and your beliefs as well.

Emphasis mine.

To be fair, it is sometimes very hard to just get along with our fellow human being in society. However we may try, our sometimes prejudiced feelings or thoughts make us reject the other.

For me, one of the best inner attitude to have was expressed some 2000 years ago (give or take) when someone said: "Love thy enemy".

Now, what was the name of that hippie fellow who said it ? Can't seem to remember... slip of the tongue... :-P

Spoiler:

Matthew 5:44
43"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44"But I say to you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES and pray for those who persecute you [...]

Spoiler:
Hey ! I never quoted the Bible at people before ! I should do it more often - that's fun ! No wonder those Christian guys are fond of doing it ;-)

Spoiler:
EXPLOSIVE RUNES OF WISDOM !


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Of all the stream of consciousness rambling from one subject to another i think this comes in third...

I love me some good internet ramblings morning, while sitting in front of the computer in my mauve pyjamas :-D !

Ho, and I love you too, BigNorseWolf as a fellow...er, human... being ;-).

[*hugs BigNorseWolf*]

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