Blog | Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Maybe it's not health care's fault.

The failure of the U.S. to match longevity statistics of other developed countries is well-known, but a column in today's New York Times offers a different explanation for the gap. To put it simply, it's lifestyle (particularly smoking) that sets us apart from these other countries, not the quality of our health care, according to researchers. "Dr. Preston and other researchers have calculated that if deaths due to smoking were excluded, the United States would rise to the top half of the longevity rankings for developed countries," the Times reports.

The good news is that many Americans have quit smoking in the past decade or so, so we should be seeing continuing gains in health. The bad news is that we're working hard to make up the difference by getting fatter.