Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 05, 2008

We're Number One!

In addition to state-by-state rankings and statistics, America's Health Rankings, on page, offers some comparisons of the United States with some of the other comparatively wealthy countries. They lifted their data from the WHO, by the way, but they've organized it for us conveniently.

As I mentioned when I redesigned this page, the U.S. does not do particularly well on the life expectancy front. In so-called "Healthy Life Expectancy" -- "Average number of years that a person can expect to live in "full health" by taking into account years lived in less than full health due to disease and/or injury," according to the WHO -- Japan ranks number 1, at 75 years, and the U.S. ranks 28th, at 69 years -- tied with Slovenia.

But there is one category in which the U.S. absolutely blows away the competition, one important health-related area in which we have no peers, no challengers, nobody even threatening to come anywhere close to us in the foreseeable future. We're the top! We're the Coliseum. We're the top! We're the Louvre museum.

Yep, you guessed it, that is fatness. 33.2% of our adult women are overweight, and 31.1% of the men. New Zealand comes in a pathetic second at 23.2% for women, while Malta is lapped by our guys at 25%. Japan isn't even trying -- 3.3% and 2.9% is all the fatness they can muster.

I don't know why you think this is amusing. Obesity -> diabetes -> amputations -> kidney failure -> billions and billions of dollars spent on treatment, and lost to disability, and human misery. Oh yeah, heart disease, strokes, arthritis, cancer -- this is a slow motion public health disaster that will bankrupt this country faster than imported oil and exported military empire. It's a huge, terrifying crisis. It's no joke.


C. Corax said...

I tell people that I can see it among students on campus. Some folks seem skeptical when I say that, but it sure seems obvious to me. It astounds me that so many young people can be so overweight. Is it a combination of sedentary lifestyle induced by electronic entertainment plus a growing paranoia about children being kidnapped if they play outside by themselves? Worsening diet plus the above?

Discover What You Think said...

Thoughts about Obesity

Obesity is when excess body fat accumulates in one to where this overgrowth makes the person unhealthy to varying degrees. Obesity is different than being overweight, as it is of a more serious concern. As measured by one’s body mass index (BMI), one’s BMI of 25 to 30 kg/m is considered overweight. If their BMI is 30 to 35 kg/m, they are class I obese, 35 to 40 BMI would be class II obese, and any BMI above 40 is class III obesity. Presently, with obesity affecting children progressively more, the issue of obesity has become a serious public health concern.
Approximately half of all children under the age of 12 are either obese are overweight. About twenty percent of children ages 2 to 5 years old are either obese are overweight. Worldwide, nearly one and a half billion people are either obese or overweight. In the United States, about one third of adults are either obese or overweight. It is now predicted that, for the first time in about 150 years, our life expectancy is suppose to decline.
Morbid obesity is defined as one who has a body mass index of 30 kg/m or greater, and this surgery, along with the three other types of surgery for morbid obesity, should be considered a last resort after all other methods to reduce the patient’s weight have chronically failed. Morbid obesity greatly affects the health of the patient in a very negative way. It has about 10 co-morbidities that can develop if the situation is not corrected. Some if not most of these co-morbidities are life-threatening.
One solution beneficial in many cases of morbid obesity if one’s obesity is not eventually controlled or corrected is what is known as gastric bypass surgery. This is a type of bariatric surgery that essentially reduces the volume of the human stomach in order to correct and treat morbid obesity by surgical re-construction of the stomach and small intestine. Patients for such surgeries are those with a BMI of greater than 40, or a BMI greater than 35 if the patient has comorbidities aside from obesity. This surgery should be considered for the severely obese when other treatment options have failed.
There are three surgical variations of gastric bypass surgery, and one is chosen by the surgeon based on their experience and success from the variation they will utilize. Generally, these surgeries are either gastric restrictive operations or malabsorptive operations. Over 200,000 gastric bypass surgeries are performed each year, and this surgery being performed continues to progress as a suitable option for the morbidly obese. There is evidence that this surgery is particularly beneficial for those obese patients that have non-insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus as well.
So the surgery to correct morbid obesity greatly limits or prevents such co-morbidities associated with those who are obese. Two percent of those who undergo this surgery die as a result from about a half a dozen complications that could occur. However, the surgery reduces the overall mortality of the patient by 40 percent or so, yet this percentage is debatable due to conflicting clinical studies.
Age of the patient should be taken into consideration, as to whether or not the risks of this surgery outweigh any potential benefits for the patient who may have existing co-morbidities that have already caused physiological damage to the patient. Also what should be determined by the surgeon is the amount of safety, effectiveness, and rationale for a particular patient regarding those patients who are elderly, for example.
Many feel bariatric surgery such as this should be considered as a last resort when exercise and diet have failed for a great length of time.
If a person or a doctor is considering this type of surgery, there is a website dedicated to bariatric surgery, which is:,

Dan Abshear