NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 5, 2006

U.S. residents over age 55 are "much sicker" than British residents in the same age group -- with higher rates of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, lung disease and cancer -- according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers from University College-London studied U.S. and British health surveys to compare the health of people ages 55 to 64, as well as their social and economic status.

They found that:

  • Diabetes was about twice as prevalent in the United States as it was in Britain, and hypertension was 10 percent more common in America.
  • Obesity rates were "much higher" in the United States than in Britain, although the British were more likely to be heavy drinkers.
  • About 20 percent of people ages 55 to 64 in both countries smoked.

According to the researchers, although both countries' wealthier and better-educated populations were much more likely to be healthy than their poorer and less-educated populations, "differences in socioeconomic groups between the two countries were so great that those in the top education and income level in the United States had similar rates of diabetes and heart disease as those in the bottom education and income level in England."

They added that when minorities were removed from the study and adjustments were made for education and income, whites in Britain were healthier than U.S. whites. The United States spends about $5,200 per person annually on health care, while Britain spends about half that much.

Source: Source: Alan Cowell, "Study Says Older Americans Are Less Healthy Than British," New York Times, May 3, 2006; based upon: James Banks et al., "Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and in England," Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 295 No. 17, May 3, 2006.

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