America Is A Pretty Dangerous And Unhealthful Place To Raise A Child

shutterstock_76105675The Sandy Hook massacre may be the worst school shooting in American history, but — as parents who are stocking up on bullet-proof backpacks know — death by gunfire is less than unique in our country. Combine that reality with the poor state of our health and we’re all raising our kids in quite the dangerous place.

NBC news reports that Americans are “far more unhealthy” that those of 16 other developed countries. Researchers at the National Academy of Sciences determined that fate is out to get us — Final Destination style. Us red, white, and blue citizens are “far more likely” to die in car accidents or be murdered. If we manage to outlive those disasters, then we’re dying young from heart disease and obesity.

And the worst part is, it appears we’re the ones to blame. The diagnosis comes down to “U.S. culture,” according to researchers. This unhealthful concoction includes our reliance on cars to our penchant for fast food to a “rejection of being told what to do.”

Dr. Steven Woolf, chair of the department of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, observed:

“We have a culture in our country … that cherishes personal autonomy and wants to limit intrusion of government and other entities upon our personal lives,” Woolf said. “Some of those forces may act against the ability to achieve optimal health outcomes.”

When it comes to rectifying our dodgy health, we throw down quite the cash. Individually, Americans spend over $8,600 a year on healthcare (over double what the French, Swedish, and British pay). But despite that hefty check, we’re not any healthier nor do live any longer compared to 13 European countries, as well as Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Americans are floundering in the following areas:

  • infant mortality (32.7 deaths per 100,000)
  • injury and homicide rates
  • teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
  • the AIDS virus
  • drug abuse
  • obesity and diabetes
  • heart disease
  • lung disease
  • disabilities

But even if you are good about that gym membership, that diet, your sexual health, pronounced physical threats to your life remain. Americans are reportedly seven times more likely to be murdered than people in the other aforementioned countries, and 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun (perhaps on the way to those regular gym visits?).

Also consider that the majority of these dangerous, fatal circumstances are more threatening to our younger citizens than our older ones:

“I don’t think most parents know that, on average, infants, children, and adolescents in the U.S. die younger and have greater rates of illness and injury than youth in other countries,” Woolf said.

“For many years, Americans have been dying at younger ages than people in almost all other high-income countries,” the expert panel wrote.

On the bright side, fewer of us are dying from cancer…but it’s still the second cause of death. Not the brightest of bright sides, I guess.

(photo: iQoncept / Shutterstock)

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    • Scoop007

      We are also one of the few (only?) developed countries that still allow GMO’s in our food without so much as a label, we treat drug abuse as a criminal activity not a mental health problem, we fail on every front of sexual education from abstinence to talking to our children about sex, our politicians lead by who has the most the money to give them, and our kids spend more time shooting people in video games than playing in person with their friends. We are reaping what we’ve sown.

    • tangerine dream

      $8,6000??? Most Americans don’t even make $86, 000 per year. Also, other countries assess their infant mortality rates in very different ways than the U.S., so at least that one statistic is inaccurate. This is a very poorly written article.

      • guest

        My husband and I spend around $2700 a year in healthcare premiums offered by our employers and we’re in our late 20′s. Add in co-pays for my chiropractor, that bumps it up an extra $700 a year. Co-pay for my GP visits is probably around $100 a year. Prescription meds is another $200. If they include dental and eye exams, contacts, glasses, etc then it’s another $300. If they include over the counter meds that probably adds another $100. So that’s $4,100 estimate for two relatively healthy people with health insurance.

        I could see how $8,600 would be an average, especially for people with families, older adults, people without insurance, those that are hospitalized, those that give birth, etc.

        I agree that there are problems with calculating the infant mortality rate.