Why America Flunks Health

WHY AMERICA FLUNKS HEALTH
The United States has just dropped to number 41 in longevity, down from number 11 a few years ago. Click here: News – U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span – AOL News Why? It is certainly NOT because of inadequate medical care. In fact Medical ''Care'' is at the very best the third leading cause of death! (JAMA, July, 2000). Indeed, all the medical care in the world cannot fix health when Americans have a basically unhealthy life pattern.

The leading causes of illness and premature death are:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Medical Treatment

Our average longevity is also shortened by the relatively high incidence of premature births and stillbirths. To a remarkable extent, these two factors are the result of the same factors that lead to obesity, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse – failure to take personal responsibility for one’s behavior. Thirty years, Joseph Califano, Secretary of HEW, wrote that improvement in health will come only by preventing disease. Preventing disease requires healthy habits. Indeed, Thomas McKeown (THE ROLE OF MEDICINE) emphasized that 92% of the increased longevity Americans gained in the 20th century resulted from chlorination of water, proper disposal of sewage, pasteurization of milk and adequate protein.

In the past 45 years nutrition in America has deteriorated tremendously, thanks to ''fast'' junk food, which provides rapid obesity, many illnesses and premature death. Over 60% of all food sold in the U.S. is loaded with processed starch, Monosodium Glutamate, transfats, and other unsafe ''additives.'' Health and longevity will be improved ONLY when Americans take personal responsibility for the basic health requirements:

  • Body Mass Index between 19 and 24
  • No smoking
  • Minimum of 5 servings daily of fruits or vegetables
  • Real physical exercise a minimum of 3 days a week

This will require:

  • Minimizing or abolishing all fast foods, pop and equal junk non-foods
  • Wisdom to avoid all tobacco
  • Marked reduction in sitting
  • Eating only real food

There are obviously many other factors that can improve health and longevity but none of them will have the total impact on health and longevity to equal the basics. It will require avoiding ''The New Obscenity'' written so eloquently by Professor Wilcox. Instead of ''I can’t help myself,'' the common sense answer to our health crisis is ''I am responsible for all my habits and behaviors.''