According to a recent article in BBC News ( Americans are falling behind other countries in life expectancy.  In this article the BBC reports on recent research by Dr. Ali Mokdad at the University of Washington.  The differences are stunning.

Source: Washington University, UN Population Division as reproduced in BBC News

Americans die about 1.5 years earlier than Brits and 3 years earlier than Australians.

Why is this happening?  Dr. Mokdad and his colleagues point to good evidence that the main culprits are higher rates of tobacco use, obesity, and salt consumption, and less daily exercise, less emphasis on primary care, and less prevention.  They note that the U.S. has not been nearly as tough as Australia in restricting tobacco advertising and public smoking.

So what is the cure?  Invest in primary care and prevention and quit looking for a quick (and expensive) fix.  Dr. Mokdad and his colleagues suggest that we should use proven approaches.  Adopt stricter policies to discourage smoking, discontinue tobacco subsidies, and devote a higher percentage of transportation and education resources to support healthy eating and active forms of transportation like walking and biking.  That is the path to a longer and more abundant life.

Author: Jim Bailey