Thursday, May 04, 2006


John Bull Is Healthier Than Uncle Sam

A recent report, based on comparisons of health statistics from both countries, shows that middle-aged citizens of the United Kingdom are considerably healthier than their counterparts in the United States. Americans exhibited higher rates of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and these differences persisted even when the samples were corrected for ethnicity and income level. Affluent middle-aged Yanks, although healthier than most other Americans, were only about as healthy as working class Brits. Anericans were fatter and got less exercise, but the Britons drank more, and the health differences could not be statistically attributed to either excess weight or inactivity. Britons, unlike Americans, have universal access to health care - but even rich Americans with full access to the U.S. medical system were sicker than affluent Brits.

Many are somewhat mystified by the results. Nonetheless, both the journalists who reported the story and the researchers themselves suggest that major differences between American and British society may result in greater psychological stress for Americans. The Britons have access to safety nets that Americans just don't have - not just universal health care, but a more equitable social welfare system, less of a wage gap between rich and poor, and a long-standing and venerable culture that offers a greater sense of community and values above and beyond the hollow pursuit of material gain. It might just be better for your health to stop humpin' it for The Man and stretch out in front of the telly like Onslow on Keeping Up Appearances with your ale and crisps...

Here are several takes on the survey:

US New & World Report
New York Times
Guardian Unlimited

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