Eduardo Porter writes at The New York Times:
Four years ago, a panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council set out to assess the nation’s health compared with that of 16 other rich nations. Americans, they found, had the second-highest mortality from noncommunicable conditions — like diabetes, heart disease or violence — and the fourth highest from infectious disease. In terms of infant and maternal mortality, Americans are the worst off.
From adolescence to adulthood to old age, the chances of dying an early death are higher in the United States than in any of the other 16 countries. A 15-year-old American girl has a 1 in 25 chance of dying before she turns 50, twice the risk found in the comparison group.
And early death is hardly surprising, since Americans lead a pretty sickly life. Teenagers and young adults report higher rates of obesity, chronic illness, sexually transmitted infections, mental illness and injuries than in peer countries, according to the report. Americans in their 50s have higher rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
The figures also reflect a toll in the workplace. The United States ranks in the bottom fourth among the 30 industrialized nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of days lost to disability: Women will lose 362 days between birth and their 60th birthday; men about 336. Mental health problems like depression will account for most.