The 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
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.