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Despite highest health spending, Americans' life expectancy falls behind other countries'
Date:10/7/2010

October 7, 2010America continues to lag behind other nations when it comes to gains in life expectancy, and commonly cited causes for our poor performanceobesity, smoking, traffic fatalities and homicideare not to blame, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. The study looked at health spending; behavioral risk factors like obesity and smoking; and 15-year survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 in the U.S. and 12 other nations -- Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth Fund-supported study, "What Changes in Survival Rates Tell Us About U.S. Health Care, is published as a Health Affairs Web Exclusive.

While the U.S. has achieved gains in 15-year survival rates decade by decade between 1975 and 2005, the researchers discovered that other countries have experienced even greater gains, leading the U.S. to slip in country ranking, even as per capita health care spending in the U.S. increased at more than twice the rate of the comparison countries. Fifteen-year survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 in the U.S. have fallen relative to the other 12 countries over the past 30 years. Forty-five year old U.S. white women fared the worstby 2005 their 15-year survival rates were lower than that of all the other countries. Moreover, the survival rates of this group in 2005 had not even surpassed the 1975 15-year survival rates for Swiss, Swedish, Dutch or Japanese women. The U.S. ranking for 15-year life expectancy for 45-year-old men also declined, falling from 3rd in 1975 to 12th in 2005.

When the researchers compared risk factors among the 13 countries, they found very little difference in smoking habits between the U.S. and the comparison countriesin fact, the U.S. had faster declines in smoking between 1975 and 2005 than almost all of the other countries. In t
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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