Eight Americas

A new study in the Public Library of Science (available free), divides the nation into “Eight Americas” in terms of life expectancy — which, after all, is the name of the game when it comes to health.

The differences from top to bottom – Asian women in Bergen County, N.J., living 91 years on average and Native American men in southwest South Dakota checking out on average at 58 – have little to do with income, race or access to health care.

Rather, the differences are based largely on preventable chronic diseases among overweight and unfit young and middle-aged adults as well as on preventable do-it-yourself killers like alcohol, tobacco and firearms.

Obviously, there will always be variations among human beings, and there should be ways to narrow health disparities.

But as the authors conclude: “Because policies aimed at reducing fundamental socioeconomic inequalities are currently practically absent in the US, health disparities will have to be at least partly addressed through public health strategies that reduce risk factors for chronic diseases and injuries.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Obviously, there will always be variations among human beings, and there should be ways to narrow health disparities.”

    No, there should not. You’re implying here that people shortchanged by genetics should have a greater access to shared resources at the expense of those whose state is natural health.

    This is an entirely different direction to redistribution of wealth thinking. While there might be some justification in redistribution of wealth in breaking up entrenched power centers, this takes on the currency of genetics, declaring it too unfair.

    Forging ahead to the Vonnegut vision.

    If you’re looking for an alternative, even application of the shared funds, how aboute an even benefit? Everyone gets the same number of years extra, on average.

  2. Racism, segregation, discrimination will end when we all agree on one’s special… and they’re attempting to find a way to make health another attribute to define people. Black/white, christian/muslim, male/female… health region 2/health region 5???

    I’m no more important than a guy living on the other side of the country, nor is he more important than me. If the region of the country will determine the level of aid he will recieve it says… you living in region X deserve more or better treatment than someone else.

    You simply create another layer for discrimination.

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