Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

U.S. Lags Behind Peers in Risk Factors Tied to Poor Health

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

U.S. Lags Behind Peers in Risk Factors Tied to Poor Health

Article excerpt

AT A PRESS BRIEFING HELD BY JAMA AND THE INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE

WASHINGTON -- Americans are increasingly living with disabling conditions rather than dying from fatal diseases, while the country lags behind its economic peers in addressing risk factors that contribute to poor health and premature death.

That's according to several studies highlighted at the briefing.

"We've identified substantial areas where the U.S. can make progress and hopefully narrow the gap between what we've observed in the U.S. and the [peer] countries," Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle, lead author of the studies, said at the briefing.

The main study, published in July in JAMA, is "an extraordinary publication," said Dr. Howard Bauchner, the journal's editor in chief. "This is the first comprehensive box score of American health that's ever been published."

The JAMA study, along with two companions, adds to the growing body of evidence that diet and physical activity--as well as smoking--are among the most important determinants of health, outside of socioeconomic factors.

Both Dr. Murray and Dr. Bauchner said it was critical for physicians to discuss these lifestyle issues with patients, but also to monitor risk factors like hypertension, cholesterol, and blood sugar, especially in women, who are, in some areas of the country, facing rising death rates from heart disease in particular.

The United States has succeeded in reducing deaths from ischemic heart disease, HIV/AIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, and certain cancers, according to researchers from the U. …

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