Americans dying younger when compared to other nations

Source: CNN, NPR, National Research Council report

Although our country spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, Americans are experiencing more illnesses and a slowing life expectancy compared to international peers.

The finding is based on 2011 research by the National Research Council comparing health outcomes in the United States and 16 other wealthy democracies.  

America has the highest per-capita spending on health care, and performs well on cancer survival rates as well as blood-pressure and cholesterol levels. But since the 1980s, researchers found, life expectancy in America is slowing at a faster rate than in other countries. The United States has poorer outcomes related to infant mortality, AIDS, heart disease, homicides, teen pregnancy, drug-related deaths, obesity and disabilities.

Although the fragmented American health system can account for some of the poor performance, it can’t take all of the blame: even insured people are sicker than their peers around the globe.

Other factors contribute to the disparity, such as our prevalence of smoking, drinking and poor eating habits -- despite widespread awareness that these behaviors are unhealthy. The United States also has a weaker social “safety net” and a high-stress society that discourages physical activity with a reliance on cars, researchers say.