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Monday 24th October 2016

Europe healthier than America

2nd October 2007

Americans are being diagnosed with far higher rates of chronic, costly diseases related to smoking and obesity than their European counterparts.


Europeans over 50 are being diagnosed with less cancer, diabetes and heart disease that ageing Americans, who have twice as many diagnoses of heart disease as Europeans.

More than 16% of US nationals had diabetes, compared with 11% of Europeans, according to a study published online in the journal Health Affairs.

Arthritis and cancer, too, were more than twice as common in the US, said the study, led by Kenneth Thorpe, a professor of public health at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

Thorpe said the results implied an additional US$100-150 billion in healthcare costs annually for the US.

Americans were nearly twice as likely as Europeans to be obese (33.1% versus 17.1%), and they also were more likely to be current or former smokers (53% versus 43%), Thorpe's team found.

The team said they had expected to see differences between disease prevalence in the United States and Europe, but that the extent of the differences surprised them.

Thorpe said the findings suggested that Americans were less healthy than Europeans.

The report highlights a debate about lifestyle, usually seen as a question of personal choice, and about the economic costs of a high-pressure life with an abundance of cheap food.

Part of the findings reflect the fact that Americans are more likely to be diagnosed because healthcare services run more intensive screening programes, especially in the diagnosis rates related to cancer.

But in the areas of disease related to obesity, Americans definitely are sicker, said the study, which aimed to discover why the US spends more on healthcare than any European country.

In 2004, the year of the data used in the study, US$6,102 was spent per capita, about twice the amount spent in the Netherlands or Germany.

The study recommended disease prevention through lifestyle changes as the best route to cutting healthcare costs. Putting Americans on a diet and exercise regime and increasing their relaxation and leisure time were among the measures suggested.


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