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Wednesday, October 3rd 2007

Cause And Effect And Healthcare Rankings

Dr. Rangel takes up my pet peeve.

For example, obesity alone is calculated to decrease US life expectancy by 0.3 to 0.75 years and the US has the highest rates of obesity in the world. Notice that Japan has one of the lowest rates of obesity and is among the countries with the highest life expectancies. The WHO report acknowledges that other variables like higher HIV rates, higher tobacco abuse rates, higher rates of risk factors for coronary artery disease (including obesity), and higher rates of homicides in the US compared to other industrialized countries combine to decrease the life expectancy for Americans.

The generally poor life style choices of Americans are more likely to have a causative effect on health care spending than the other way around. I.e. more health care spending is needed to take care of the conditions like heart disease that result from our poor health habits. This is more logical than to assume that high health care spending has anything to do with rates of obesity or smoking.

This blog is a broken record on this point but again: the United States has some of the sickest people in the western world independent of access to healthcare and 2/2 lifestyle choices. This poor health: a) raises the health care spending and b) contributes to poorer outcomes across all those imprecise measures which international ratings of health care systems are based on.

While it remains the U.S. runs one of the least efficient health care systems in the world, how about everyone have their kids put down the Big Mac, get some exercise and see what happens to our life expectancy before they start complaining that Americans are dropping over younger than the rest of the first world.

Oh well, good to see someone else echoing this point. He also goes on into other reasons the WHO rankings are garbage; some of which I’ve made before on this blog. Strong work Dr. Rangel.

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