U.S. HIGH HEALTH CARE COSTS UNRELATED TO LONGEVITY (NY STATE RANKS 19TH) RESEARCH SUPPORTS PUBLIC-HEALTH ACTIVISM
Most Americans are now very dissatisfied with the high cost of medical care, and the percentage expressing this view has been rising rapidly. Yet how much people spend on health care seems to have little to do with how long they live. Hawaii has longest-lived residents at 80 years life expectancy, whereas Washington, D.C. residents have a life expectancy of only 72 years, a gap of eight years. The major differences are not in infant mortality or the life expectancy of elderly people, but in the number of people who die as youths or in middle age. The gap is at said to expand to more than 35 years [? the gap described next is "only" 24.4 years] at the county level, between (1) Asian-American women in Bergen County, N.J.living the longest with an average life expectancy of 91 years and (2) Native Americans in several rural counties in South Dakota having a life expectancy of 66.6 years New York State ranks a surprisingly poor 19th, with an average life expectancy of 77.7 years. Connecticut does better at 4th place with an average life expectancy of 78.7 years. New Jersey ranks in 23rd place with a life expectancy of 77.5 years.
The research was by the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health and the Harvard School of Public Health, led by Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray. They conclude that life expectancy is primarily determined by the prevalence of chronic illnesses – for example, heart disease, cancer and injuries from alcohol-related traffic accidents. The found little relationship between life expectancy and income, infant mortality rates, violence, or lack of health insurance. Sources: Business Week article based on research published in the September issue of the medical journal of the Public Library of Science, PLoS Medicine.
The research appears to support public health activism of the kind pursued by New York City's Board of Health under Mayor Bloomberg. It publishes comparative data on health status in NYC's community boards. It has sought to determine safety factors for bicyclists. It has prohibited smoking in restaurants. Now in a battle for better nutrition it proposes that (1) all restaurants cut down on use of trans fats and (2) fast-food outlets list calories. NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wants to create the nation’s most rigorous system of calorie disclosure in restaurants to combat obesity in a city reliant on take-out food. The rules would apply to the 2,000 NYC restaurants (10% of all NYC restaurants) with highly standardized menu items - notably chains like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Thoroughfare: I would like to see life-expectancy figures for people who live past 5, 20, 30 and 50. If there's a high infant mortality rate, or high death rate among young men, that brings down the life expectancy. Articles like this mislead people into thinking that they'll live longer if they move to Hawaii or shorter if the move to Mississippi.
Gust: The gap between 66.6 and 91 is 24.4 years, not "over 35".
Rob In La.: In this politically correct world one of the main problems is always flirted with but never openly discussed. The mortality rate of African-Americans is higher than that of other ethnicities and is reflected in the statistics. For example, if you look at the bottom 5 on the list (D.C.; South Carolina; Louisiana; Mississippi; Alabama) all 5 have an African-American population of over 30 percent in their states or areas. These are the highest rates of black to white in the nation. These facts or extremely relevant but so many are scared to discuss this situation openly. However, the problem is very real nonetheless.
Biff: These are all fish states. Fish is the answer.