Why Are Brits Healthier Than Yanks?

May 3rd, 2006, 08:55 AM
  #1  
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Why Are Brits Healthier Than Yanks?

A much publicized study in the American Medical Association journal released yesterday says that older Brits are dramatically in better health than similar demographic Americans.
The statistics are startling: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, cancer - across the board Americans were statistically much higher. Even when ethnic groups were factored out the same results were reached - only older folks were studied and apparently Anglo-Saxons so genetics were ruled out.
Yanks were much more obese but the study says that doesn't account for the discrepencies - and it was noted that older Brits binged more on booze. Both groups had near universal health care coverage - though surprisingly americans spent twice as much on health care than their British counterparts. The stats held up across soci0-economic groups. Both countries older adults have similar smoking rates (1 out of 5)
So what causes Brits to be apparently much more healthy? The study couldn't say.
As a frequent UK traveler the statistics amaze me as i never considered the Brits to be health conscious - fish and chips are still commonly devoured, etc. and many Brits idea of a veg is chips it seems.
But i guess i'm missing something.
why are Brits healthier?
PalQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Having husband and wife friends in England who are both dentists, I can tell you they are amazed at much healthier Yanks' teeth and gums are than their Brit counterparts. As they describe it, rare is the Brit who will actually do two trips to the dentist a year (or any at all) unless they have a problem that needs fixing. They feel "preventitive" dental care is almost non-existent in the UK.
 
May 3rd, 2006, 09:01 AM
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What age were they?

The UK ate its healthiest diet during the second world war and in the shortages of the post-war period. (sounds odd but very little sugar or fat, lots of UK grown veg, restricted portions of meat and diary etc). So a lot of older people grew up eating very healthily during their formative years and young adulthood, which I believe has a life-long effect on health. Whereas America didn't have rationing or dietary restrictions at that time. I'm sure if you compare the average diets of Americans and Brits even in the 50s and 60s you would find a big difference.

Now we are eating a much more similar diet I doubt we'll keep our health advantage in future.
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:02 AM
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ages were 55-64
PalQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Is British food laced with corn syrup and nasty colorings and preservatives like in the US?
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Yes, i blame it too on preservatives & all that canned & frozen crap everyone eats here. They don't know the long-term effects of that stuff - plus pesticides (although I'm not sure about pesticide use in Europe??). I think in general Europeans are more "natural" about their food - even if it is fish & chips - yummy!
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:11 AM
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Maybe British Fog keeps them healthy?
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:17 AM
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I believe the Brits may be healthier because they walk more. Much more than most Americans. Notice all the walking tours offered by UK travel organizations. Just a guess.
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:17 AM
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An interesting question!
I am a dentist who had a lot of older Brit patients.
For the most part they had this profile for a 80 year old-
1. Usually scrawny
2. They all gardened
3. They were always busy
4. They all drank
5. They all loved to talk.
6. They didn't have any gum problems because they had a lot of teeth missing.
7. They couldn't have cared less about missing teeth if they felt they were functioning well.
8. They always made my day.


They are a special breed...for sure.

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guaranteed is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:20 AM
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Nona1---the people in the study were between 55 and 64.

I can understand the difference in heart disease and hypertension, which could be accounted for by the greater rate of obesity in the U.S. But how to account for the difference in cancer rates? I am wondering if that reflects a difference in screening practices for breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Also, presumably that includes skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma. Many of us who spent our early years at the beach would have to be counted.

One difference I have found is in general fitness and exercise habits. Last year I helped to host a group of Brits who came to the West coast for two weeks of hiking and mountain climbing. All but two of the 15 were in their 60's, and they all seemed to feel that their level of fitness---being able to tackle strenuous hikes day after day---was not at all unusual for their age group peers. I don't think the same could be said of most Americans in their 60's.

The short summary of the article I read suggested the that difference might be explained by the greater level of stress experienced by Americans in all aspects of their lives---work, home, and community.

enzian is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:27 AM
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It must be all that "black pudding" they consume! And, nona1, I fully remember the rationing and dietary restrictions that we lived under in the US during WWII. Not that dissimilar to what they endured, once we were involved in the war effort.
BigJohn is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:27 AM
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Perhaps it's the walking. Also, I don't think that too many in that age group ate too many products with preservatives etc. when younger - maybe they added that stuff as they grew older and these things became more readily available.
On another note, I do remember from living in England, that the English do seem to let things roll off their backs and lots of them have a wonderful sense of humor - could it be less stress.
I wonder if those studies will change with the younger generations everywhere now adopting unhealth habits as a standard.
cybor is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:45 AM
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It must be the exercise, Americans don't seem to get much of it.
I'm surprised at the lung disease, since Americans, (at least here in California) don't smoke as much.

Why wouldn't obesity account for the discrepencies? That does't make sense.
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:47 AM
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Eating more fresh food?
Eating less food?
Walking?

Our friends never take their car out until they need to drive into the country or somewhere with a large amount of "stuff"..otherwise they walk and take trains.

Coming from a year in Florida, I can say that most of the obese and unhealthy people around us were always driving up to the store to buy the Jumbo bags of Fritos and driving home , even if it was a block to the store.
Fried food and sweets to top it off make a sick large person.

We should all try to eat less and walk more, there is no good reason why Americans with our Health Care and the quality of our stores, foods etc should not be among the healthiest in the world.

As to Health Care, our friends in London use a private doctor because they find the wait for 6 months to have elective surgery to be too difficult to live with.

I bet a lot of the eating health is not from the type of food , so much as the amount of food.
Portions are nowhere as large as they are all over the US..(which is so not a good thing in my mind)
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:48 AM
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I agree with the less stress theory.

I don't agree that the diet in Britain during WWII was healthy. It was seriously deficient in many essentials and while it's good to eat less food (something else that is common in Britain), not enough is bad for you. However, they certainly weren't getting fat on it.

I'd be amazed if the rationing in the US was even close to what it was in Britain.
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:48 AM
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"Why wouldn't obesity account for the discrepencies?"

Why would it? Have you been to the UK? I find that I see as many obese people there as I do in the US. Meanwhile, I recently saw statistics and I'm not sure that it didn't indicate there was actually a higher percentage of overweight people in the UK than in the US.

It is a major myth that everyone in the US is obese or that the US has the market on obesity.
 
May 3rd, 2006, 09:50 AM
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Yes i thought why did they dismiss the obeseity angle but i think they also compared older obese Brits to older obese Yanks and found the fat Brits healthier.
Like a post above said one possible explanation was the sense of community and stress. Maybe if older Yanks have friendly neighborhood pubs like the Rovers on Corrie Street to go to they'd live longer!
PalQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:52 AM
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Why are we healthier than you - especially if we're from the Golden Cohort? (born 1947-56)?

We worry less. We drink. We don't waste money or mental energy on useless fads like dentistry. We walk. We're the generation that had free, universal health care from the moment of our conception, and free access, if we were bright enough, to the world's best education. We grew up before junk food: even if we've lately succumbed, we've had decades of cod liver oil and baked beans (possibly the world's healthiest food) to ward off the worst McD can do. But we prefer M+S and Tesco anyway.

A huge proportion of us are sitting on utterly unexpected wealth - the product of house price inflation, rather than our own skills, but it's still affluence.

And the price of booze has collapsed during our lifetimes.

True of all Britons? No. Later cohorts didn't have it so good, and I suspect the balance will swing. But it just shows what a nation can achieve if they don't waste money on the lunatic boondoggle for doctors that the American health system is.

Get yourselves a proper National Health Service. You'll save a fortune and live longer.

We'll even lend you Tony B Liar for a few years to install it for you.

If you promise to keep him.
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Our strength is as the strength of ten because our hearts are pure.

I think that the favourite theory is that childhood obesity can lead to problems in later life.
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May 3rd, 2006, 09:56 AM
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I put my money on exercise and stress levels as the major factors in the differences in health.
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