Why Are Brits Healthier Than Yanks?

May 3rd, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Those European breakfast! Coffee, bread.

Those American Breakfast! Pancakes, syrup, butter.

I met these two guys from Belgium and they were eating their cucumber sandwiches. One said, we were up in Seattle and they had the worst breakfast. First they take these pancakes and put lots of butter on them and then they take syrup. Really bad.
wally34949 is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:00 AM
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One stat that wasn't in the article i read - life expectancy - is it significantly higher in the UK? Of course to be relevant to the study it would have to be of the studied group and not the population in general.
PalQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:02 AM
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Guiness! !
Rich is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:02 AM
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BTW, I am 67 and have all my own teeth intact apart from three fillings and one crown.

There was an experiment fairly recently where children were fed the war-time diet and another group were fed a modern diet.
Not only did the war-time group lose weight, but they also grew more.
I cycled three miles to school every day and I am about to go walking in Scotland.
MissPrism is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:05 AM
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I read that article, and actually used to work with one of the researchers, and the results aren't exactly as black and white as stated (or wherever those statements came from). It is true that the Americans were higher on many of the measures (but not all), but the results were not always statistically significant. For example, they weren't higher on the high blood pressure measure, and were significantly lower on the cholesterol levels, actually (which are more a risk factor than outcome).

There wasn't exactly universal insurance coverage, either (as that doesn't occur in the US naturally, and didn't occur in this sample). It is true for the age and demographic group of interest, insurance coverage was very high for the Americans, though, but at least 13% were uninsured in the lower economic groups. Only 7% were uninsured in the age group 55-64, though -- in any case, that wasn't judged to be a major factor in the results. Different age groups were studied for some of the results (age 40-70), mainly for the clinical measures rather than self-reported ones.

It is definitely not surprising that Americans spent so much more on health care in this study, this is a known, long-established fact and statistic. The US spends more per capita on health care than any country in the world due to its private system. They spend about 50 pct more per capita than Switzerland, which is the next highest country, and 140 pct more than the average OECD country (and there are not more health care resources in the US to account for this, either -- ie, not more physicians, CT scanners or hospital beds per capita -- it's because the prices are higher, basically).

As for why they would be healthier -- it is very surprising to me, also, as I don't think of the British as real health nuts or in that great shape.
Christina is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Just shop in any American supermarket on a Saturday. One-third of Americans are obese and one-third are merely overweight. And many don't even think they are overweight.

American meal portions must be about 20 % larger than those of Europeans.
GeorgeW is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:21 AM
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I love how people try to make comparisons like:

"Those European breakfast! Coffee, bread.
Those American Breakfast! Pancakes, syrup, butter."

How silly. I could just as easily say:

"English breakfast: beans, blood pudding, streaky bacon, eggs fried in grease"
American breakfast: yoghurt and an orange juice" or "bagel or muffin with coffee". Those are far more typical DAILY breakfasts than pancakes with syrup for MOST Americans.

The idea that everyone in a particular country eats the same thing, or that people who eat pancakes with syrup do it every day is just too silly to get into.

Incidentally, have you ever walked through a supermarket in rural England? Or looked at how many obese Brits there are sitting around a typical pub? I repeat -- the US does NOT have the market on obesity.
May 3rd, 2006, 09:31 AM
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Your a hoot .
I'd take Tony anyday in exchange for W but...... no I guess I couldn't do that to my English freinds, besides you probably wouldn't take him anyhow or if you did you'd probaby no what to do with him.
cybor is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:39 AM
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I think it has to do with exercise. There have been studies here that show that seniors - even very elderly in nursing homes - can improve their health through regular light exercise programs.

And Ameicans in that age group tend to get almost NO exercise - just constrantly drive from one place to another. Brits walk a lot more on a regular basis (don't get the car out to go 6 blocks to the 7/11).
nytraveler is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:39 AM
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They're really healthier than Yanks? Interesting...and surprising. The food is pretty similar in both countries. And Brits consume so much cream & custard!
Maybe because Brits do more walking...I wonder though...

I wonder if the results would change if they did a study of 5-13 year olds.
JAGIRL is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:51 AM
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I do think that cream, cheese, butter, eggs, booze etc. are all fine and people have been eating these things for years with no adverse reaction. The problem comes about when one adds to this a 16oz. steak, cheetos and a lg. shake. Look at all the beautiful foods that the French eat and you don't see too many overwieght elders.
cybor is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Frankly, I do not believe the study. I suspect they only used English people in the survey. As an exiled Scot, I am appalled at the Scottish diet. No wonder Scots have the highest heart attack rate in the western world.The last time I was there, deep fried Mars Bars were common, vegetables with a meal were notcommon and I was served lasagne with fries (chips in the U.K.).
If indeed the survey is to be believed, it must be due to the exercise that that age group had when younger. They walked everywhere. School buses were rare. People went for food to a store on a daily basis in many cases and they went by "Shank's pony". Another advantage would have been that the male part of the survey grew up doing a sport - soccer ( football as it is correctly called) - that required significant running. This is unlike the dreadful sports of baseball and football (U.S.style ) in the States where real exercise is minimal.
almcd is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 09:57 AM
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A lot of studies have come out recently about how much more obesity is present in Europe today. In fact, in contrast to the book about French women staying thin all of Europe (the Wetern world) is getting fatter


I remember that in the Czech Republic, locals would complain how fat people were getting. But everywhere I went in Prague, people seemed model-esque. Finally, out in the countryside, I found out what they are talking about. People who only see slimness in other countries probably just see the metropolitan area like if you hung out in trendy areas of NYC.

This doesn't answer why the British are healthier. I am extremely interested in how this will play out and hope a lot more research goes into it, but I don't have my hopes up too high. My best guess from the evidence is health care and attitudes.
lizzy911 is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 10:01 AM
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I still have a 30-inch waist and when people say, "[email protected]", I always respond, drink red wine instead of beer.

But when a recipe comes from Europe to the United States, the first thing they do is double it and the second thing is add white sugar.
wally34949 is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 10:03 AM
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I too am older than 64, but people of that age are beneficiaries of the green ration book.
Expectant and nursing mothers and children got extra rations including codliver oil, orange juice and extra milk.
When bananas came back into the shops, they were only issued on green ration books.
Again, although we love a good moan about the NHS, everyone from cradle to grave gets free medical care and treatment and monitoring in diabetes clinics is excellent.
I have regular tests and examinations including regular eye tests.
We oldies also get free drugs.
I get the impression from American friends that excellent medical care in the US is like the Ritz, open to all.
Just recently a friend told me about his partner waiting for three hours in an American hospital with a suspected stroke.
Although, there are adequate numbers of medical staff in cities, some country districts are very badly served.
Have you ever taken your car to a garage and been asked, "Is it an insurance job, mate?"
If it is, they charge extra.
That's mainly what's wrong with US medicine.

Josser is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 10:06 AM
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I thought French women stayed so thin because they smoke like chimneys...
PrincessOfPenguins is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 10:32 AM
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That's a fascinating bit of information and several things come to mind as to why it might be so.

1. During the childhood of the UK group rationing was still in effect. In the UK food rationing continued until 1954.

Even with the end of rationing, diets in the UK contained less meat and fats for a considerable period into the lives of the test group.

Even ignoring the health benefits of eating less meat and fats there are studies that suggest that periods of severely reduced caloric intake interspersed with "normal" eating prolong life.

2. As several people have mentioned, car use in the UK, especially during the youth of the group studied was considerably lower in the UK than in the US.

Although I know of no study that confirms it, I suspect that even moderate amounts of exercise early in life provide long term health benefits.

If UK group members continue to walk more, as has been suggested, then there are studies which demonstrate significant health benefits from even moderate exercise later in life.

3. Regular, moderate, alcohol use has been linked to improved health. My impression has always been that there are more teetotalers in the US than in the UK but I have no statistics to support this.

NB: What constitutes "better health" is a matter of definition. Even life expectancy at birth which is slightly higher in the UK than in the US can be misleading.

Rillifane is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 11:09 AM
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Interesting that many Brits here attribute rationing to the better health of their age group.
In a famous study of U.S. conscientious objectors who refused to fight in WWI (i think, or WWII) but then volunteered to undergo near starvation for one year study - a study that would never have been done on humane grounds in recent times, actually exhibited better health in many areas attributed to their severe calorie reduction.
Studies in lab animals also indicate the same. I'm not sold on the war rationing angle but wouldn't rule it out either.
I wonder if sex life was included in the study - the new AMA study that is - could make a difference one way or the other!
PalQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Well, I read about that guy who did the starvation diet thing and while his heart was healthyish, his bone mass and muscularity equaled that of a little old lady...

I'll stick to my food and keep my strong bones and muscles any day...
PrincessOfPenguins is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 11:40 AM
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As some of you know, I was born in Enland and came to live in the U.S. as a child, my father being American. Upon returning to visit my relatives (Aunt Pat and Uncle Terry are both approaching 70, Aunt Judith is 54) over the past 25 years, I have noticed a few things about their lifestyle.

1. My relatives very rarely eat packaged food. They eat do eat greasy food like fish & chips, and other foods fried in 5 inches of lard. However, the PORTIONS they eat are MUCH smaller than those of their American counterparts. They DO NOT snack.

Aunt Pat to Uncle Terry in a restaurant in Philadelphia: Terry! Just look at what that woman is eating!! That is enough to feed a family of four!!!

2. My relatives are all stick-thin. However, they rarely exercise other than gardening or walking the dogs.

3. They ALL smoke like chimneys. And drink cups and cups of tea all day long.

4. They have HORRID teeth. Sometimes it is hard to even look at them unless they are in a dim room. Aunt Judith's teeth are pretty good, but she is a celebrity and has to look decent for photos. However, she doesn't have the kind of dental work (veneers) like US celebs.

5. Englishmen LOVE the sun. That is why we all flock to Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Majorca, etc. whenever we can. Having lily-white skin doesn't faze us. We throw caution to the wind for some warm rays.

You may be on to something about rationing during WW II. My mother did not grow up eating sugar, and now has an aversion to it. She can't stand anything overly sweet. She also does not snack and eats tiny portions. She said that when she was a child, you did not ever eat between meals.

Another thing: My relatives rarely dine out unless a special occasion. They are mystified why Americans eat in restaurants several times a week. They think that habit is DAFT!!

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