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Americans Less Healthy, But Outlive Brits

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the cross-cultural-croaking-comparison dept.

Medicine 521

An anonymous reader writes with this intriguing snippet: "Older Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, but they live as long or even longer than their English peers, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London. Researchers found that while Americans aged 55 to 64 have higher rates of chronic diseases than their peers in England, they died at about the same rate. And Americans age 65 and older — while still sicker than their English peers — had a lower death rate than similar people in England, according to findings published in the journal Demography."

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521 comments

clearly (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146178)

Clearly this is because of our lack of socialized healthcare, and this is no other factor that could possibly affect this.

Re:clearly (0, Redundant)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146276)

Perhaps.

Re:clearly (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146434)

Never doubt the power of pork rinds.

Re:clearly (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146460)

Heh. Our lack of fussy health care in childhood makes us fitter. Their lack of fussy health care in old age, keeps them running.

But seriously, all modern day comparisons should be treated with caution. We're talking about people in their sixties here. If you want to compare the effects of health care in the different countries, you need to give consideration to the last seventy years or more. Or maybe it's just walking versus driving. The British walk more. A slightly more physically demanding life makes them fitter when they can deal with it, and kills us off when we no longer can. ;)

Re:clearly (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146488)

The numbers are slightly strange. For example, comparing death rates for people 'over 65' makes no sense - everyone over 65 dies; there is no upper bound on the age. Comparing death rates in the 55-64 range doesn't account for the number of people in either country who die before they are 55.

Re:clearly (2, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146546)

Indeed. In time honoured fashion, I hadn't actually RTFA at the time of posting. I have done so now. I found it rather unenlightening. What would be really interesting to see is the difference in death rates across different wealth demographics. I.e. do we see larger discrepancies in one country than we do in the other. But I've now noticed that this is the RAND corporation, so I wont hold my breath on anything that shows the US system to have conceptual problems.

Re:clearly (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146580)

From TFA:

"The study also investigated the relationship between the financial resources of individuals in both countries and how soon they would they would die in the future.

"While poorer people are more likely to die sooner than their more well-off counterparts, researchers say their finding supports the view that the primary pathway between health and wealth is that poor health leads to a depletion of household wealth, rather than being poor causes one's health to decline. Researchers found that the substantial changes in wealth that occurred in the years 1992 and 2002 in the United States through increases in stock prices and housing prices did not alter the probability of subsequent death."

Also this interesting conclusion:

"The United States' health problem is not fundamentally a health care or insurance problem, at least at older ages," Banks said. "It is a problem of excess illness and the solution to that problem may lie outside the health care delivery system. The solution may be to alter lifestyles or other behaviors."

Re:clearly (3, Interesting)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146568)

The numbers are slightly strange

The numbers are badly skewed by the fact that what happens earlier is highly significant.

Consider a previous study (in the 1980's I believe). It showed that Electronic Engineers in the US were far more likely than others to die in their 40's of exposure to PCBs. This lead to panic about Poly Chlorinated Biphenys, which are used in transformers.

Once the panic settled down, it was discovered that polychlorinated biphenyls are only used in power distribution transformers (ie in substations), whihc most EEs are never exposed to at all. However, almost all EEs were exposed to Printed Circuit Boards. Statistical analyists were not exposed to neither, and could not the difference between a liquid and a solid. The reason for the discrepancy in the death rate was that EEs lived much longer than their peers because they were not sent to Vietnam, and were much more likely to die of health problems in the 40's because their peers died of gunshot wounds at the atge of ne-ne-ne--nineteen.

Moral: Trust statistics only after you personally have discovered how far you can throw them. (Chucking them into a WPB is a well proven strategy).

Well, duh (5, Funny)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146194)

The UK is more depressing what with its annual 4 hours of sunshine and the best looking women maybe rating a 7. Who can forget the warm beer, bad food and lovable totalitarian government?

I'm not kidding. You don't think all of that stuff can have a negative affect on a persons psyche, perhaps affecting their health? Especially the warm beer...that's especially depressing.

Re:Well, duh (2, Funny)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146222)

one of my clients is a life assurance company - the actuaries are saying that the first British woman who will live to 120 years old has just retired this year. i.e. for her 40 years of work she'll have to fund 60 years of retirement. that's news that will be enough to kill anyone off.

Re:Well, duh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146224)

Icelanders have the highest longevity, and they get more rain and wind than the British.

Re:Well, duh (3, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146266)

I bet you don't have warm beer. :p

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146274)

Icelanders also have very developed bathing culture that's existed since the Viking age, with tons of public baths all over the place (when I was near Reykjavík, I went to the Laugadalslaug and Kópavogslaug pretty much every evening) and many people using hot pots and the like.

It's been suggested that this is linked to the longevity of the people.

Re:Well, duh (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146316)

Bathing? Sure - everybody knows that a clean house is a healthy house! Or body in this case...

Re:Well, duh (4, Informative)

onion2k (203094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146306)

It's called ale, and it's supposed to be served warm (room temperature, as opposed to chilled). It actually tastes of something. It has substance. That's why we like it. In fact, this reminds me of a joke.

Why is American beer like sex in a canoe?
Because it's fucking close to water.

It's funny because it's true. ;)

Re:Well, duh (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146322)

REAL American beer is done in microbrews.... like here in Portland, Oregon.

Re:Well, duh (1)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146364)

REAL American beer is done in microbrews.... like here in Portland, Oregon.
True, nowadays, and in big cities or nice trendy towns like Portland. When I lived in rural Mississippi in the late 1980s, you had a choice of Bud or Bud light. (Even in the so-called Irish bar. Honest! No Guinness in an Irish bar.) The "fscking close to water" joke dates back to that era, if not to an earlier one.

Re:Well, duh (2, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146462)

The "fscking close to water" joke dates back to that era, if not to an earlier one.

Earlier. It was used in WW2. It may have been used still earlier.

When it wasn't used was the 19th century, when Budweiser and such were made by immigrant Germans, and it was really pretty damn good. Enough so that it was winning international awards.

Sad where it's gone since then - I blame Prohibition, myself.

Re:Well, duh (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146514)

Sad where it's gone since then - I blame Prohibition, myself.

Prohibition is the reason that Americans perceive that beer should be served very cold. Back then, people were glad of any beer that they could get, so speakeasys sold really cheap crap produced in someone's back room. Chilling it deadened the taste buds and removed the horrible yeasty taste. By the time it got back to room temperature, it was completely undrinkable.

In contrast, a decent ale is still very nice at that temperature. There are some really good beers in the USA (I particularly like some of the amber ales, which are very hard to get on this side of the pond), but massive advertising by the crap beer companies have reinforced the notion that beer should be served at a temperature that prevents you from tasting it, so they're hard to find.

Re:Well, duh (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146396)

REAL American beer is done in microbrews.... like here in Portland, Oregon.

That doesn't really compute. How are those microbreweries supplying the whole of the USA, which is quite a large country? I think if you look into the data, you'll find that the vast majority of American beer is supplied by the "macrobreweries" like Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors. What makes them less authentically American than the microbreweries?

Re:Well, duh (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146426)

Neither company you mention is American owned. The largest American brewer is Sam Adams.

Re:Well, duh (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146466)

Which is a microbrewery. ;)

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146630)

No, it's really not. According to the Brewers Association, a microbrewery has a fixed annual production limit of 15,000 barrels. It's easy to confuse large, decent beer companies with microbreweries based on the quality of their product... but don't.

Leinenkugel, Sam Adams, Guinness, Heineken, and Sierra Nevada are not microbrews, and they're not imports despite what the restaurant down the street's menu claims.

Re:Well, duh (3, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146458)

What makes them less authentically American

They are not less authentically American, just less authentically beer

Re:Well, duh (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146418)

LOL! There are indeed some very good American beers. You can get some very good food in Britain as well. But we're talking stereotypes here, not reality.

Re:Well, duh (5, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146478)

If you want to talk reality, forget beer comparisons, try cheese. America is home to the worlds most disgusting cheese. This is the country that invented spray on cheese. Everytime I talk about American cheese with Americans, they say, 'ah, but we do have good cheeses, you just have to look for them.' And they try to give me some Wisconsin cheddar which admittedly is not awful, just bad. I don't know what it is. The US has contributed some fantastic music, movies, plays, inventions, economic theories, software and people to the world. Really great, great stuff.

But what you call cheese could kill a rhino at ten paces.

Yay, Portland (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146428)

Off topic: I was, at one time, an advertising copywriter. I notice several shortcomings in the Helium Designs web site.

Re:Yay, Portland (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146432)

Uhg. Havent even looked at it in almost 9 months. Been working referral mostly.

Re:Well, duh (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146476)

REAL American beer is done in microbrews.... like here in Portland, Oregon.
... and not served chilled. The whole point of chilling beer is so that it numbs your tastebuds so you can't taste how nasty it is when it's badly made.

Budweiser's "Fresh Beer Tastes Better" adverts were pulled by the ASA in the UK, because fresh beer does not, in fact, taste better. It tastes like yeasty rat piss until it has had time to mature a bit.

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146312)

But why wouldn't these factors manifest as poor health before earlier death?

Re:Well, duh (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146354)

Am I the only one who read the article? Ah yes, this is Slashdot. So this article is written by finance people and someone who works for RAND which is funded partly by the health care industries in the US.

So no fucking shit it finds that US healthcare industry provided healthcare is better than a socialist model.

Or have I missed something?

Re:Well, duh (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146366)

Who can forget the warm beer, bad food and lovable totalitarian government?

I never had a warm beer in the dozen or so pubs I visited while in London a couple years back. And if you don't like a good banger, then that's your problem. :-P

Re:Well, duh (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146398)

I thought the reason you chill beer is to kill the nasty taste....

Re:Well, duh (1, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146406)

Always amuses me when Americans criticise our beer and our food. America is the nation of Bud Light, where gourmet cheese comes in a tube. Seriously - a nation that lives of hot dogs, burgers, French Fries and Pizza has no place criticising anyone's food.

As for attractiveness of women - which country has the worst obesity problem? I guess you're a chubby chaser.

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146444)

What could be more depressing than spending your whole life listening to the US female accent/buzzsaw whine?

Re:Well, duh (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146472)

Name one well-known American chef. How many well-known British chefs can you name?

America has the worst food in the world, all bland greasy meat covered in cheap hot sauce.

Re:Well, duh (1)

myfanwy-ap-dafydd (1935640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146490)

This from the country that inflicted Budweiser, McDonalds and so-called 'football' played by people who wouldn't last five minutes against the Pontypridd front row even with the helmets and padding to stop the poor dears from hurting themselves. Here, have a Brains SA, at cellar temperature so you can taste it. That's beer, that is!

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146510)

Yeah, right, funny... Knee-jerk stereotyping always is. I'm an American ex-pat and I deliberately moved here - the dramatic shift in daylight hours is a problem for me, because I didn't grow up with it. But the food is fine, if you avoid the pubs, and the beer is a million times better than the pisswater in America. As for the women, I have seen numerous more stunners here than all the time I spent in L.A, or even in all of America. But perhaps I have a preference for the British phenotypes... In any case, they are easier to deal with than American women. And I'd much rather have a lovable totalitarian government than a scary one - and Nu Labour is out of power anyway.

As for the health care, the NHS is a million times better than HMOs (Kaiser for me) - Americans are fools for putting with that shite. As a diabetic, I get free meds to boot - In America, I'd be $500+ out of pocket for them on top of the outrageous premiums for so-so care. That is to say, if I could get insurance at all - being self-employed, I'd have to rely on a state plan to force insurance companies to give me coverage. That is, if I was in one of the few states that offer such things. And no, health care "reform" would not have done jack for me.

All this other country bashing that Americans do is just a way to avoid having to examine the rather extensive problems in America.

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146526)

Don't forget lack of hygiene. It really shorten people's life.

When to say enough? (2, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146214)

It has been my experience that Americans hold onto life harder than almost anyone else on the planet. There is no saying "Well, that's enough then." There is no accepting the inevitable. No matter how sick, how weak, how miserable a person is, in the US it seems that it's still better than throwing in the towel.

Re:When to say enough? (2, Interesting)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146324)

I read somewhere that this has to do with religion... A religious person is more afraid of throwing in the towel than a non-religious person, as they are afraid of might be waiting for them in the afterlife.

Re:When to say enough? (1)

CxDoo (918501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146494)

Yeah, because a nonbeliever (such as myself) has only *nothing* to be afraid of.

Re:When to say enough? (2, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146326)

It has been my experience that Americans hold onto life harder than almost anyone else on the planet. There is no saying "Well, that's enough then." There is no accepting the inevitable. No matter how sick, how weak, how miserable a person is, in the US it seems that it's still better than throwing in the towel.

I wonder if this has to do with the American Religious Right and the rather bleak picture they paint of the afterlife where the absolute best you can hope for is an eternity under a sadistic, totalitarian and arbitrary demon-god who makes a passable impression of Hitler (but more likely you'll burn in Hell due to some slight doctrinal misunderstanding)? Offhand, I can't think of anyone else with such dim prospects - Atheists think they'll face peaceful oblivion, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims think they'll face a generally benevolent deity, Hindus think they'll get re-incarnated, Buddhists think they'll be re-incarnated or reach Nirvana, etc. etc.

It seems to me that nobody else has as much reason to fear death than Americans. If you thought you'd face after death a being whose defining characteristics are hating gays/communists/arabs/whatever and torturing anyone who annoys him in horrible ways, wouldn't you cling to life with desperate zeal? Talk about your self-inflicted Hell.

Re:When to say enough? (2, Interesting)

icebrain (944107) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146570)

Or, we can look for an answer that doesn't paint most of us as backwards hyper-religious hicks... I know that (especially from the outside) it certainly seems like we are from all the news coverage and wacky stories, but most people here who are religious follow a gentler, kinder, more accepting version.

The "religious right" is a fairly small minority, but a very vocal one with higher turnout numbers than average. Unfortunately, those of us who share [i]some[/i] views considered right wing (eg, my views on taxes, many social programs, and guns) get lumped together with those assholes, even though we also support plenty of those things that they don't (gay rights, fair and unbiased policies for legal immigration, upholding of true freedom of speech, separation of church and state, etc).

Anyway, I'm getting off-topic. I would suggest that a non-religious reason for not giving up or resigning ourselves is just a "don't ever give up" mentality.

Divide by number of pills swallowed... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146404)

I think they just spend more money on pills over the pond. Most Brits have an aversion to all things medical.

Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (1)

MicroRoller (1923300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146218)

Who says we don't have the best healthcare?

No matter how badly we treat ourselves our doctors fix us up good!

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146260)

Who says we don't have the best healthcare?

I didn't know that the only two countries in the world were Great Britain and the United States. What happened to the 20-30 countries with longer life expectancy than either one? Or don't they count?

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146328)

Apparently you haven't been paying attention. When your country contributes as much to the overall progress of man as the UK and USA have then you count. And please, don't give us this crap about how evil they are. If it weren't for them almost all of us would be living 30 years less, under totalitarian rule speaking German, Russian, or Japanese. We wouldn't have democracy, human rights, rights for women, free speech, airplanes, cars, air conditioning, advanced medicine, television, or the internet your using right now. The list goes on and on. Sure, some bad stuff came along with those things, but not because they were bad or the people who gave them to us were bad, but because we were F'ing morons about how we used them. And if you want to whinge about some grievance you have with them from 100 or 200 years ago buy a d*mn time machine and go back and talk to the dead people your mad at, otherwise - grow up.

Perhaps the yanks and the poms would be a LOT less testy with the rest of us if we were decent enough to at least acknowledge the incredible things they have done on our behalf. After that we could stop crying every time they don't do something perfectly. We could finish up by putting on our big-boy pants and starting to contribute as much as they do.

So yeah, they do count more than the rest of us. Be an adult and deal with it.

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (1)

supertrinko (1396985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146346)

It's funny how people think that if one country didn't develop it, no other country would.

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146370)

Okay, fair point and all, but if we want to see who has the best healthcare in the world (and not the biggest contributions to healthcare) then other countries would be interesting to see. Still, studies have budgets etc etc

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (1)

drewsup (990717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146484)

It's already been proven that most if not all really innovative stuff does not just get invented by one person. It is always several people , sometimes scattered all over the world, pushing the boundaries of what is already known. The automobile, the airplane, radio, television are all classic examples. There is usually a slow, steady increase in the science available, then huge creative bursts that coalesce the previously gained knowledge into new "quantum leap" technologies. As a Yank living in the UK , I have two dogs in this fight, both are losing :)

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146550)

Apparently you haven't been paying attention. When your country contributes as much to the overall progress of man as the UK and USA have then you count.

What does that have to do with me pointing out that more countries than the UK and the US exist when someone thinks that just because a study shows that Americans live longer than Brits, it means that the US has the best health care?

And please, don't give us this crap about how evil they are. If it weren't for them almost all of us would be living 30 years less, under totalitarian rule speaking German, Russian, or Japanese.

Why on earth would I do that? I'm trying to be at least somewhat on topic (unlike you).

We wouldn't have democracy,

Democracy has its origins in ancient Greece so what are you trying to say?

human rights,

As the "war on terror" has shown, the US currently has the worst human rights record of all Western nations.

rights for women,

New Zealand and Finland were first to grant women the right to vote and that had absolutely nothing to do with the US.

free speech,

Once again, ancient Greece is where the concept has its origins. In the 7th century it was part of Islamic ethics and academia.

airplanes,

Finally, sort of right.

cars,

So e.g. the late 19th century French electric car doesn't count? And when did Karl Benz seize to be considered the inventor of the modern car?

air conditioning,

Ancient Rome.

advanced medicine,

Define advanced. Or did you mean modern?

television,

So Russia and Germany don't count? Despite each having contributed at least as much as the US and UK combined? Or interlacing, which - despite it's annoyances - has been around until now?

or the internet your using right now.

The second thing you get right.

Although The list goes on and on.

I suspect that the list of things that come out of your ass is infinite, although I don't know what purpose you think it serves.

Sure, some bad stuff came along with those things, but not because they were bad or the people who gave them to us were bad, but because we were F'ing morons about how we used them. And if you want to whinge about some grievance you have with them from 100 or 200 years ago buy a d*mn time machine and go back and talk to the dead people your mad at, otherwise - grow up.

Just what the fuck are you trying to say?

Perhaps the yanks and the poms would be a LOT less testy with the rest of us if we were decent enough to at least acknowledge the incredible things they have done on our behalf.

Well, you cannot say that I haven't done that since I haven't said anything remotely related. Or should I have some completely unrelated expression of gratitude embedded in every post I make to point out a flaw in somebody's argument?

After that we could stop crying every time they don't do something perfectly. We could finish up by putting on our big-boy pants and starting to contribute as much as they do.

What the fuck does that have to do with the observation I made that the poster that started this thread forgot that more countries than the UK and the US exist?

So yeah, they do count more than the rest of us. Be an adult and deal with it.

Does "count more than the rest of us" mean that the rest of the world doesn't count at all? Since the point I made was that other countries exist.

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146620)

The second thing you get right.

Well,

The CYCLADES packet switching network was a French research network created in the early 1970s. It was developed to explore alternatives to the ARPANET design and to support network research generally. It was extremely influential on the Internet's initial design.

The CYCLADES network was the first to make the hosts responsible for the reliable delivery of data, rather than the network itself, using unreliable datagrams and associated end-to-end protocol mechanisms. These concepts were later used in the TCP/IP, the protocol of the Internet; CYCLADES was one of the predecessor systems with the greatest technical influence on the Internet.

The network was sponsored by the French government, through the Institut de Recherche d'lnformatique et d'Automatique (IRIA), the national research laboratory for computer science in France (now known as INRIA), which served as the co-ordinating agency. Several French computer manufacturers, research institutes and universities contributed to the effort. CYCLADES was designed and directed by Louis Pouzin.

Re:Who says we don't have the best healthcare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146268)

US medical technology is among the best in the world, but health care in the US is also the most expensive and least accessible in the world - which is why the elderly in the US are less healthy than elderly elsewhere in the world.

Even so! (5, Interesting)

Hitman_Frost (798840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146226)

Despite all this clever wording, Americans do not outlive Brits in the vast majority of cases.

USA - Male life expectancy 75.6 years, female 80.8 years.
UK - Male life expectancy 77.2 years, female 81.6 years.

Notice how one set of numbers are larger than the others.

Re:Even so! (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146250)

Despite all this clever wording, Americans do not outlive Brits in the vast majority of cases.

USA - Male life expectancy 75.6 years, female 80.8 years.
UK - Male life expectancy 77.2 years, female 81.6 years.

Notice how one set of numbers are larger than the others.

This tells you a lot about statistics. It can be fudged.

Re:Even so (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146272)

Not suprising is it? The US right just had a political 'victory' and now we get the politically motivated stories about how socialist universal health care isn't as good as Americas fucked up system. It makes no difference that the story and the study is a flat out lie of statistical manipulation. Nor does it make any difference that hundreds of cultural and societal differences could account for any difference far more than any minor difference in health care quality. It's just inevitable.

Cynic? Moi?

Re:Even so (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146632)

Also, the British thinktank who instituted this are a right-wing one, no doubt plotting to destroy the NHS alongside the Tory allies. So they publish a non-peer reviewed piece of 'research' designed to conclude what they want it to conclude. Bullshit.

The Tories recently gutted NICE, the body that evaluates the cost effectiveness of drugs to see if they should be made available on the NHS. They were doing a fine job, but got nothing but shit because they prevented pharmaceutical companies gouging into the state healthcare providers ample budget. When retards in the US talk about 'death panels' they are usually referring to these guys, and they don't get much of a good press in the UK either.

Basically, they talked to terminal patients to find out how much of their life they would be willing to give up to remain in good health for the rest of their life, and used this to calibrate a 'quality adjusted life year' which represented the value of a drug. Thus they could reject a hugely overpriced drug that added 2 weeks to the life of a late-stage cancer patient and spend the money saved on a drug that might allow a very sick child to reach adulthood. That second part *never* got a mention by the rightwing critics. When opportunity costs are being used to make the state healthcare system more efficient whilst forcing drug companies to charge realistic prices based on what their products can actually do, the right suddenly decides to reject economic language and talk shit about 'death panels' and NICE 'killing patients'.

Yes, we ration healthcare in this country - but up until now it has been based on how much extra life (across the whole population) that healthcare can give. The US rations healthcare too - based on how rich or poor you are. Our system is, frankly, better.

Re:Even so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146298)

I suspect all the figures fit given the child mortality data (per 1000 live births):
UK: 6
US: 8
(current WHO figures)

Why do so many American children die young?

Re:Even so! (4, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146368)

Why do so many American children die young?

I would posit that all American children who die do so while young.

Re:Even so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146456)

I thought W was GW's idiot spawn, and GW was the twit picked by that grade "C" hack actor Reagan. That worked out well. I might just try it though, Nothing to lose right? since it's all gone.

Re:Even so! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146474)

American children are born young!

Thats how the problem starts, and its all downhill from there (in the snow, both ways, with no shoes).

Re:Even so! (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146402)

Because it's very hard for ANY child to die OLD. Except loserboy nerds who live in their parents' basement and never really went through puberty, which explains why so many of them are trekkie pedophile geeks.

Re:Even so! (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146352)

You seem to be comparing UK (60M people) stats when TFA clearly is about England (50M).

Re:Even so! (4, Informative)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146420)

Here you go, life expectancies for England:

England - Male life expectancy 78 years, female 82.1 years.

Source. [statistics.gov.uk]

Re:Even so! (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146504)

If one is to assume that both TFA and the parent post are correct, then one must assume that either:

A) England and the UK as a whole have substantially different life expectancies (unlikely),

B) someone in the USA has a significantly higher chance of dying young than someone in England/UK (rather more likely)

or

C) There is a difference in how the two countries handle infant mortality statistics (no opinions on likelihood, though I have read that the USA classifies some things as "infant deaths" that some (and I emphasize "some", not necessarily the UK) other countries count as "dead at birth" (and therefore not part of life expectancy statistics since it was never "alive")).

Re:Even so! (1)

radio4fan (304271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146506)

Indeed.

UK: Ranked 20th in list of life expectancy by country.
US: Ranked 30th.

And to imply that socialized medicine is the reason is disingenuous when you consider that Iceland ranks 3rd and has *no* private healthcare available (which is a very rare situation), and even Cuba beats the US (by one place).

Source [un.org] .

Re:Even so! (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146544)

The study only compared people over the age of 55, meaning that if more people under the age of 55 die in the USA, then this will have no impact on their statistics. Given the life expectancy numbers, it seems that this is probably the case.

Consider WHITE ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146584)

If you group them all in you've got your ghetto clan who may live to 18, typical black male is under 50. Some Latins live longer but if you group them much lower than the WASP. WASP men live to a grand old 87. Women much longer at 92. Nearly all still have their teeth. Contrast to Brits, few of whom have all their teeth at death. And there are no "african-american" Brits. It's true !!

Re:Even so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146618)

Very clever wording indeed. Any country where a smaller selection of people make it past 55, would do very well in the 55-64 age bracket. The English are just letting anyone into there 55-64 age bracket.

Harold Shipman ethnically cleansed 250. (0, Flamebait)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146244)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Shipman [wikipedia.org]

At least 250 people died at the hands of this one man. Did they take that into account when considering these statistics?

Re:Harold Shipman ethnically cleansed 250. (2, Informative)

SteveAstro (209000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146348)

Shipman didn't "ethnically cleanse" He almost exclusively murdered old ladies who "wouldn't be missed", including the mother of one of my friends.

Re:Harold Shipman ethnically cleansed 250. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146520)

That's not ethnic cleansing.

Longevity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146256)

So your life is miserable, but at least it lasts long, eh?

Healthcare and statistics (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146280)

How long old people still have to live heavily depends on medical treatment. Surprisingly (at first sight) bad healthcare can mean old people are more healthy. (It stops to be surpising if you consider that bad health care means only the healthy people live long enough to be old).

Thus you can get numbers that in the USA looking at the right age, you can get much longer life expectancy if you are black and poor than if you are rich and white.

Another nice paradox (numbers might not be totally accurate and might have changed over time): Getting older might increase the years you still have to live. Especially if you are 60 (or something short of retirement age in your country) you might have statistically less years before you than if you are 70 (or something a few but not too much years after typical retirement), because all those people dying between 60 and 70 lower the chances for a 60 year old more than the 10 years less do reduce the expected years for the others.

So be careful with those numbers.

Politics (2, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146288)

I know some politicians will use a study like this to argue that single payer health care is a bad idea, but when you consider that this study looked at older citizens, who tend (in America) to be on Medicare (our single payer health care), it seems to suggest that that program isn't so bad after all.

Of course, you have climate, pollution, diet, genetics, and a dozen different factors that you can't control for when you compare Americans and Brits. So studies like this one are probably pretty useless.

It would be interesting if you could take a group of senior citizens and split them up three ways: no insurance, single payer (Medicare), and traditional health insurance. Then see who lives longest.

Re:Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146384)

Of course, you have climate, pollution, diet, genetics, and a dozen different factors that you can't control for when you compare Americans and Brits. So studies like this one are probably pretty useless.

It's still interesting though because it contradicts a lot of "conventional wisdom" regarding the statistics of health and longevity. I mean, apparently there is no _direct_ relationship between sickness and death on the macro scale.

Re:Politics (2, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146386)

It could even be that weaker genes and such get taken out before the comparison thresholds comes into play.

I would love to see the death rates for younger people.

And yes, climate could be a big issue. USA allows someone to stay within their nation while having a ski vacation in the rockies and a beach vacation in florida or california. How many elderly in USA ups and moves south once they hit retirement?

How about health care spendings per citizen ? (4, Interesting)

jopsen (885607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146394)

There're many other factors... Such as amount of money spend on health care... For instance the US spends more than twice as much on heath care per citizen as the UK (and the US doesn't even cover all of their citizen).
That's according to OECD: http://tinyurl.com/cr9753 [tinyurl.com]

Re:How about health care spendings per citizen ? (3, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146574)

For instance the US spends more than twice as much on heath care per citizen as the UK

An alternative way of putting that however, is that the health care costs twice as much per citizen. Factually, the two statements are equivalent, but consider the different implications.

Re:How about health care spendings per citizen ? (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146594)

For instance the US spends more than twice as much on heath care per citizen as the UK

An alternative way of putting that however, is that the health care costs twice as much per citizen. Factually, the two statements are equivalent, but consider the different implications.

True :)

Re:Politics (4, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146636)

Also bear in mind in the UK we now have a foaming-at-the-mouth radical neoliberal government, the type who says "Government is terrible! And when we get elected we are going to prove it!". They are intentionally gutting the NHS from the inside in order to make it look bad so they can move in after a few years and say "Socialised healthcare doesn't work" and sell the whole think off to their Eton/Oxbridge mates.

Expect more of these lies in the future.

Not true actually (2, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146330)

The article misses an important detail - the Yanks actually dieing earlier than Brits, it's just that all the extra preservatives they consume keep them in a state of animated death for a few extra years.

Life Expectancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146448)

UK has higher life-expectancy then USA, but this study has some bias built in that allows it to get the results that may be wrong. The bias is that there are more people who are sickly in USA, so the people who would be at good health in UK will be sick in USA. So, assuming the two populations are kind of similar genetically speaking. Then some in the group in UK will not get sick, and will not be in these statistics. So, the genetic life-expectancy of the group in the UK will shift, but nothing changes for the population as a whole. It is still better to be in the country with highest life-expectancy, it will only be more likely that you die earlier if you are sick in a country where people don't normally get so much sick.

Re:Life Expectancy (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146608)

So, assuming the two populations are kind of similar genetically speakingIt is probably very hard to justify that statement. A couple of hours travel would demonstate that the genetic basis of London (25% mixed race) is a lot different from Leicester (25% south Asian) or Glasgow (25% highland Scots).

Caveat: all statistics were fabricated from used banana skins).

Re:Life Expectancy (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146642)

Yes, so the ability to casually drop into the doctor if something is feeling a bit iffy might be a factor here. People with a civilised healthcare system in their country are more likely to err on the side of a visit to the doctor than people who are being held hostage by health insurance companies.

Re:Not true actually (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146638)

No, they're just factoring in 200 people who are frozen down and estimated to live 2k years... :)
See wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryonics

This study warrants more indepth scrutiny (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146372)

I would look to all sorts of things for differences between the two locations. I would look at what types of people were sampled from both populations. For example, did the two samples include impoverished people as well as middle and upper class people? Does it account for various [sub-]species of humans ranging from varieties of white and black to asian, hispanic/native american? There are far too many differences for this study to simply compare the two locations and draw a conclusion. (Yes, I know I am being un-P.C. by saying [sub-]species of humans but I hold that when naming other species of other animals, we cite similar differences even when there can be successful mating between different species of other animals. And let's face it -- different species of humans have different strengths and vulnerabilities from others -- sickle-cell, various forms of diabetes and more [softpedia.com] If that doesn't at least qualify the acceptance of a sub-species distinction, I don't know what does. And no, I am not against inter-racial breeding, in fact I have practiced it quite a bit... some black women are just hot and my kids are half asian. So don't start with calling me racist -- I'm not -- I just want to deal in facts, not politics.)

It would be convenient if we could all point to a single factor in any given study of human longevity, but there is no such convenience. I'll read the study later when I have time, but simply stating "U.K. and U.S. population longevity different for reason X" isn't good enough.

If I were to cite a single factor, I would probably cite that the people of the U.S. are more prone to being over-weight. Why? Morbid obesity is bad -- no question about it. But it has been shown through [questionable] studies that having a little extra weight makes people more resistant to various problems and promotes healing... think of it as having a little extra "spare parts." Makes me think our "picture of health" is still not quite reflecting reality.

Its all a matter of Perspective (1)

sosaited (1925622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146438)

But I would rather die healthy at 60, than live in an old home while being overweight at 80.

Outliving your peers is not a good thing for everyone

Define "better" (4, Insightful)

arbogasm (1846496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146440)

In the US, physicians tend to emphasize curative (disease-fighting, life-extending) care. Many American physicians view the death of a patient as a personal defeat. Thanks in large part to numerous advances in medical technology over the past half-century, physicians (worldwide, but especially in the US) have become very good at "keeping people alive." That said, keeping someone alive often comes with a price - namely, the patient's quality of life. Relative to their English colleagues, American physicians are generally more resistant to moving patients from curative care to palliative care - care that focuses solely on reducing/eliminating symptoms. It comes as no surprise, then, that patients with chronic disease are living longer in the US. Saying that longer lives implies "better" healthcare is naively simplistic at best. That conclusion is indicative of a fundamental misunderstanding of the goals of medical care. The goals of quality health care demand a balance between curative and palliative care. On one extreme end of the curative-palliative-care spectrum you have the physicians (think: Kevorkian) who want to focus solely on reducing symptoms - even to the point of death. On the other extreme of the spectrum you have those who want to extend life at any cost (think: Terri Shiavo case). On this axis, American doctors lean somewhat to the "right" of most doctors worldwide. The best doctors in any country are straddling the line between "excessive" and "inadequate" care. That being said, conflating palliative care with "giving up" on the patient is an all too common issue among physicians and patients. Though I have full confidence in this research team's statistical results, they (Smith, in particular) seem to be unfamiliar with how heavily differences in culture affect healthcare, especially among patients with chronic diseases.

Re:Define "better" (2, Insightful)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146498)

I've used this sort of argument in the past to highlight your statement "keeping someone alive often comes with a price" as well; it's also one of the reasons that healthcare costs in the United States continue to increase.

Fifty years ago, there were a whole bunch of bad things that happened to older people that signaled they were nearing the end, and that their remaining time was limited. Many of these things have become treatable and correctable, extending life for many years, but often at a cost, not just financial, but sometimes in terms of quality-of-life.

People "know" this uncomfortable fact but many refuse to acknowledge that it's just a fact of medical advances, and instead spin it into fears such as the dreaded "Death Panels" we all heard so much about a few years ago.

Effects of the war (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146492)

65 years is an interesting age, namely thats how many years ago the war ended. While the war wasn't as hard on England as it was most of the rest of Europe there was significant shortages and rationing when compared to the youth of the US during that same time period. There are a lot of studies nowadays that basically say that malnourishment during childhood can have negative effects all throughout a persons life. I wonder if the war has anything to do with the people over 65 dying at higher rates than the US.

Must be the lack of death panels. (1)

headhot (137860) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146496)

The Brits are just better at offing people by committee.

Allocation of resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146596)

There is nothing wrong with allocating health care resources: In a private system, this is done implicitly based on the size of a patients bank balance. If instead you believe that whether or not someone deserves treatment should depend on whether they need it or not, and whether it will help, then there is nothing wrong with refusing to pay for overpriced medicines which will only have a marginal effect.

There will always be a limited supply of health-care: limited number of doctors, MRI machines, medicines, and most importantly money to pay for all these things. At some point you have to make a decision as to how these resources should be allocated. "Death panels" is scaremongering hyperbole which makes a false comparison: choices are already being made already, they're just based on ability to pay, which seems just as unjust.

Whilst it is hard to say "sorry, we're not going to pay for this treatment because it will only extend your life by a year. Instead we're going to use that money to pay for X number of other people's operations which will have a greater impact", the alternative is "sorry you can't have this treatment because you can't afford it. Instead, we're going to spend our time treating this guy over here because he wrote us a big cheque".

Life in other countries.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146518)

Why not compare the lifestyle and longevity of Americans with longer lived countries..?

Japan, some of the Scandanavian places and Australia/NZ all rate pretty highly.

Here in Australia (shamefully) we are probably the second fattest nation behind the USA, but maybe our longevity is because of our falling smoking rates. I think at last count we were in the top 10 longest lived country.

Me? I'm a very healthy vegetarian, never smoked, and I've lost 70 KG (about 155lb) over the last 3 years.

Watch "Supersize Me" for an insight into the ills of the American diet... 8^)

I'd certainly rather be healthier and die younger (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146554)

Wow, it sucks to be in the US! With our old people being less healthy but still living longer, that's a recipe not only for a lot of personal misery, but also for uncontrollable health care spending. The optimal thing economically would be for old people to be healthy until their sudden death. It seems that in the US, just the opposite happens: Sick people are being kept from dying by (I assume) lots of expensive technology. Not only does that not sound like a future I want for myself. It might also help explain why our health care costs are so much higher here than anywhere else. By the way, this is not a question of private v. public medical care, because at that age, both Americans and Brits are getting their health care costs paid by the government. It just seems that the Brits are somehow getting a better deal than we get from Medicare.

Its all Dental Hygene (1)

jflo (1151079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146564)

It's all in dental hygene.... I know we have all seen the big book of British smiles at sometime in our lives. Those wacky Brits and their pointy teeth... plus don't they brush like once a week. Either way, some of them may look good naked but as long as they dont smile.

Typical dumb submitter (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146566)

To the submitter:

FFS - English or British? They are not the same thing and not interchangeable. It's quite a simple thing to grasp you moron. I suspect that even if you had the suspicion that there was a difference, you'd probably think English means British and vice versa.

Also: some British (self included) don't like the word Brits. Want to save room on the title? Change American to Yank: "Yanks less healthy, but outlive Brits". Don't like 'Yanks'? Then don't use 'Brits'.

Americans paying... (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146592)

I'm not saying americans are more healthy (I find that really hard to believe), but is it possible they appear less healthy, simply because they are sent for more procedures because they are the ones paying for them?

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