Health and Lifestyle in America

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・MLA ・4 Sources

Health is the state of physical and mental well-being of an individual. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60% of related limitations to health and individual wellbeing are related to lifestyle choices. These choices relate to diet, physical activity, geography, economic, political and cultural factors among others.

The Obesity Epidemic in America

In America, a third of the population is obese with over 97% of the people guilty of unhealthy lifestyle which has led to a high expenditure on healthcare as a result of the associated health hazards. Despite America's substantial investment in healthcare systems, it performed dismally as compared to other wealthy countries such as Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom and has been ranked 28th among the healthiest nations in the world.

Diet-Related Diseases and Healthcare Costs

In 2012, there were 700,000 reported deaths as a result of diseases attributable to diet choices and other lifestyle factors. These conditions include obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke.
It is, however, important to note that the dismal health performance of Americans can be attributed mainly to the consumption of sugary foods, unhealthy fatty foods, red meat and salty foods at the expense of healthy alternatives such as whole grains, nuts and poly unsaturated fats in sea foods (Nestle, 2013).

Political Influence on Healthcare

Politically, the United States has one of the most dysfunctional national healthcare insurance covers in the developed world. Compared to Canada and Japan which have universal insurance for their population, the United States has a significant portion of its poor and elderly minority not covered which is estimated at 23 million adults. It is evident that poor diet and lack of exercise are among the leading causes of health deterioration of Americans. According to comparative research between America and other industrialized and developed countries such as Britain and Switzerland, it takes remarkably less time for an American to access medical experts compared to these countries. Additionally, the lack of physical exercise among a majority of Americans further escalates the problems of dietary deficiencies leading to further loss of health. Research conducted across America confirms that less than 3 percent of Americans practice healthy eating and exercise regularly.

Comparative Healthcare Costs

Compared to Britain and Switzerland, the cost of healthcare in the USA is way higher and out of reach for poor citizens. This is due to lack of regulation that sees the cost of treatment vary greatly. Drugs adherence is also a critical contributor to the health status of the American people. According to a research finding on medication adherence, 75 percent of American adults are guilty of drugs non-adherence in a single or several ways. Also, the geography and society influence the health of the American people. An analysis of the health statuses by county across the United States underscores this fact through glaringly varying life expectancies.

According to research by Bradley across the OECD countries, increased spending on social services is a key contributor to lower infant mortality and longer lives.

Solutions for Improving American Health and Wellness

To improve the health and wellness of the American people, specific measures can be taken by both the Government and the individuals. Among the best remedies is the provision of affordable healthcare to all citizens.

This can be achieved through universal healthcare programs or targeted medical subsidies and regulations. In other developed countries such as Canada and Switzerland, medical costs are regulated by the government as well as the availability of universal medical covers which has contributed immensely to the realization of better healthcare as compared to the USA. In America on the other hand, the free trade in medical supplies and services has limited the number of insured and uninsured people who can access health services due to cost hence negatively affecting their health.

Secondly, the consumption of unhealthy foods should be reduced through food labeling, consumer education, and sensitization programs as well as through government food policy regulations on processed foods (Mytton, Dushy and Mike, 2012). For example, in the European Union member states, regulations to reduce the intake of excess salts and sugar in processed foods has been enacted through salt reduction programs that constitute negotiations with manufacturing companies across the member states. This reduces the variety of unhealthy foods available to the people and helps decrease unhealthy eating. Owing to the cost of such behaviors in the US, the government should expand such strategies for a healthier nation. Smoking and substance abuse should also be regulated to reduce the occurrence of diseases such as asthma, brain injury, cancer and cardiovascular illnesses.

Additionally, the need for physical exercise can be addressed through the support of wellness programs and leisure activities both at governmental, corporate and personal level. This not only saves medication costs at all levels but also enhances healthy living and productivity. Furthermore, education on risky behaviors such as medication abuse, sexual behavior and the effects of technology on healthy lifestyles should be an area of focus to foster better health outcomes.

Finally, studies are an exercise to the soul. In this regard, investment in education can be a contributor to better mental and physical health. According to studies on mental health, the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementia-related illnesses is lower in educated people as compared to uneducated or semi-educated people. Education also opens an individual to the knowledge of health risk factors such as alcohol abuse and careless driving as well as the best practices for achieving a healthy life.

In Conclusion

The American health status is a curable pandemic that needs intervention at all levels of the society. The government should endeavor to subsidize health care to all the citizens through regulations and investments in social and medical sectors as well as affordable healthcare plans. The healthcare providers should also endeavor to provide state of the art medical services at affordable prices to accommodate the economically disadvantaged in the society. Americans have however the greatest responsibility of practicing healthy lifestyles through the adoption of better diets, incorporation of physical exercises in their daily routines as well as avoidance of risky behaviors. In this way, America can move away from being labeled as the 'black sheep' of the developed world regarding the health of its citizens and rank favorably in the global health indexes. It is therefore incumbent on all players in the realization of better health to exercise their responsibilities diligently in transforming the overall health of the American people.

Works Cited

Aung, KoKo, et al. ""Risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease in metabolically unhealthy normal-weight and metabolically healthy obese individuals."" The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 99.2 (2014): 462-468.
Mytton, Oliver T., Dushy Clarke, and Mike Rayner. ""Taxing unhealthy food and drinks to improve health."" BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online) 344 (2012).
Nestle, Marion. Food politics: How the food industry influences nutrition and health. Vol. 3. Univ of California Press, 2013.
Sommers, Benjamin D., et al. ""Changes in utilization and health among low-income adults after Medicaid expansion or expanded private insurance."" JAMA internal medicine 176.10 (2016): 1501-1509.

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