There are plenty of aphorisms used in connection with the USA. Leader of the Free World, Land of the Free and the Most Powerful Nation in the World are three such examples. But according to the latest statistics, Home of the Healthy is not something that can be added to the list.
The study identified the ten most healthy countries on the planet, and both the USA and the UK were conspicuous by their absence. In fact, a closer look at the list reveals that they do not even make the top 20.
An interesting conclusion that can be drawn from the study is that high wealth does not always imply good health. Unsurprisingly, the ten countries with the poorest health were also thosewith the highest levels of poverty, but the converse does not necessarily apply. Too much of a good thing can lead to unhealthy eating and poor exercise habits.
Issues such as obesity and heart disease are, of course, of critical importance, and we will examine them in more detail shortly. But it is important to note that the health problems faced by many Americans are not always the things you might immediately think of. Here, we will take a look at some of the most common medical problems in America.
We all knew this was coming, so let’s get it out of the way. Obesity is an enormous social and medical problem across the United States, and perhaps the most shocking thing is that despite the percentage of overweight Americans rising to two thirds, there is reportedly a decline in those who are prepared to do anything about it.
There is a whole combination of causes, and it is disingenuous to blame it all on the fast food culture, although that is, of course, a factor. What is certain is that obesity leads to hypertension, stroke, depression, osteoarthritis and a whole host of other unpleasant and life-threatening conditions.
The good news is that there is a huge amount of support available for those who want to lose weight, and the condition can be turned around with determination and effort.
Heart disease is the biggest killer in America, accounting for approximately one in four deaths. That’s more than 600,000 lives claimed every year. The links with obesity are well understood, and controlling one will certainly have a positive impact on the other.
Many of the tools and techniques for mitigating the risk of heart disease are shared with those for combating obesity, including a healthy diet and a good exercise regime, so a virtuous circle can soon be formed.
Contrary to popular belief, stress was not something that was invented in the 1980s, although the modern day pace of life means it presents a greater heath issue than ever before.
Although you might think of it as a psychological condition, its effect can manifest in physical symptoms, such as elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers and clinical depression.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Any disease that can be transmitted sexually acquires a certain stigma. The thinking is along the lines that anyone who catches one must be the type of person who sleeps around and isn’t too fussy about the company. If only it was that simple.For example, genital herpes is a much larger problem than many realize, with 20% of Americans infected, yet many people know very little about herpes testing or treatment.
In fact, most sufferers do not even know they carry the infection – 80% of cases go undetected. Symptoms include blistering, itching, fever, headaches and sometimes, difficulty passing water. There are effective treatments to relieve the symptoms and reduce the likelihood of passing it on, but these can only be put into effect if sufferers have the courage to get checked out.
Everyone catches flu from time to time. In fact, it affects up to one in five Americans every year. For those in generally good health, it can be fought off with a couple of days’ bed rest and plenty of hot drinks.
Yet for the elderly, or those suffering from other conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, influenza can be a killer. This is why those at risk are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated every year.
Take care of yourself
In many ways, Americans are the envy of the world, and often with good reason. Perhaps if more of us took a step back and saw how fortunate we are compared to many in the world, we would take better care of ourselves, and help make the US one of the healthiest countries.