Magazine article The Nation's Health

Poor State of US Health a Call to Action for Public Health Leaders

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Poor State of US Health a Call to Action for Public Health Leaders

Article excerpt

OCCASIONALLY, leaders issue a call to action for a challenge that is so great that our full society must engage and provide support to address the issue. At APHA's Annual Meeting and Exposition last year, Association leaders announced a critical call to action--the need to make the U.S. the healthiest nation in one generation. The challenge, which was identified as part of APHA's new strategic plan for the Association, emerged as we examined trends for the health of our nation. Americans have higher rates of disease and die sooner than people in peer countries, according to a January 2013 report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. The report, "U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health," compared U.S. health with 16 other high-income countries, and the findings were shocking.

Not only are U.S lives shorter, but Americans also have "a long-standing pattern of poorer health that is strikingly consistent and pervasive over the life course," according to the report's brief. Americans as a group fare worse on major health issues such as heart disease, disability, injuries, homicides and obesity, the report found.

"Many of these conditions have a particularly profound effect on young people, reducing the odds that Americans will live to age 50," said the brief. "And for those who reach age 50, these conditions contribute to poorer health and greater illness later in life."

To reverse this trend, we must raise awareness of some of the reasons why American children are at risk, and generate both interest and motivation to encourage involvement. …

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