America Lags Behind Other Nations in Health

The Physicians Committee

America Lags Behind Other Nations in Health

November 22, 2013
America Lags Behind Other Nations in Health

America’s health compares poorly with that of other developed nations, according to an annual survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of its 34 member nations. The U.S. life expectancy is 78.7 years, below the OECD average of 80.1 years. Twenty-five nations fare better, with Switzerland on top at 82.8 years. The United States is by far the most obese nation at 36.5 percent of the population, with some of the highest rates of infant mortality, dementia, diabetes, and death from heart disease. The United States also spends the most on total health care, compared with other nations, 17.7 percent of its GDP (almost 50 percent more than the next highest nation). The authors attribute the poor outcomes to poor lifestyle (including dietary habits), a fragmented health care system, and a high uninsured population.

OECD (2013), Health at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing. Accessed November 22, 2013. Available at:

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