We're Getting Healthier--in Some Ways
Although the U.S. is suffering an epidemic of obesity, at the same time, we’re healthier in some ways than we used to be, new research shows.
Experts from the National Bureau of Economic Research; Harvard; and the University of Massachusetts analyzed data from government-sponsored health surveys over the last three decades. They measured how the quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) of Americans has changed over time.
"What we're talking about in this study is not simply life expectancy, but quality-adjusted life expectancy," said Susan Stewart of the National Bureau of Economic Researchers. "Many studies have measured this in different ways, but this is really the first time we've been able to measure it in the entire U.S. population using such a rich measure over a long period."
The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, indicated that Americans are healthier than ever. The statistics from the studies showed that people are living longer and reporting fewer disease symptoms and incidences of trouble walking or standing. This was true, the researchers said, of blacks, whites, men and women.
But there were some significant issues as well. The non-elderly showed increased problems with walking, and anxiety increased among young and middle-aged people beginning in 2001.