For years, it’s been known that U.S. life expectancy falls below other high-income countries, despite the fact that we spend more on health care per individual than anyone else in the world. Americans continue to falsely assume that we pay more for healthcare because we have a better health system and/or better health outcomes. Not true. According to the 2015 mortality data, American men die approximately at the age of 76.3 and American women at 81.2, about 2.2 years earlier than their counterparts in several other high-income countries.
So why are we so unhealthy?
Food – It’s no secret, our food is killing us. We are short on time, so we don’t think twice about buying fast foods and preparing fewer meals at home. We eat chemically-induced junk because it’s cheaper and tastes better (cha-ching, cha-ching, it’s all about profit). Oh, and “would you like to super size that meal”? (Again, cha-ching). Serving sizes are absurd, high in calories and low in nutrition. Not to mention Europe has now banned over 3,000 food additives – preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients, currently found in US foods, including our baby’s food.
Toxin Exposure – A study done by the EWG shows that newborns are exposed to an average of 287 toxins, “including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, and chemicals from non stick products”. Tests done to the umbilical cord blood also indicated that out of the 287 toxins, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. When babies are born exposed to such a high number of toxic chemicals, its obvious toxic exposure is at an all time high.
Lack of Physical Activity – Again, our schedules and time limitations amongst fifty other excuses, keep us from exercising. And our children spend more time playing video games inside than playing outside.
Over Diagnosed and Over Medicated – Drug manufacturers have more unregulated freedom in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world to push their product where they don’t belong. Success is shown in returns to shareholders, not benefits to patients.
Unaffordable Healthcare – Doctors and hospitals are there to help, but the system is making a lot more money off of patients than what is necessary to run a hospital. After all the wages are paid, loans are paid, and the cost of running and buying all the equipment, there is still a large chunk of profit. For example, an MRI in the United States (at a low-end range) will cost you approximately $1,500. The same MRI in Japan, with similar equipment and expertise will cost you $100. This is because Japanese Government set a price for MRI manufacturers to meet. The MRI manufacturers met that price and brought down the price of the machine as well as the cost to manufacture it. We could easily do the same, if it weren’t for the profit. And we won’t even get into insurance companies and how much they are making.
Sleep Deprivation – We need sleep in order to ensure optimal cognitive function, mood, and other health-related considerations. The recommended amount of sleep is often not met due to issues troubling us and/or our lifestyle.
Stress – Whether it’s money, work, health concerns, family responsibilities, or the economy, we are faced with more stressful situations than before.
Since the late 1940’s we have perhaps felt that medicine has been there to bail us out. But our food, illness, and heath care system is sick, so it’s no wonder we’re sick too.