Did you know that Americans are spending more on health care than any other industrialized nation? While this may not be a surprise to all people, what is a surprise is that simultaneously Americans also have one of the lowest life expectancies.
In 2014, health care spending hit $3.8 trillion. The average life expectancy for an American is about 79 years old. This is much greater than ever before, when the life expectancy used to be about 60 years old. The life expectancy for people living in Japan is 83, for people living in Western Europe is 82, and for people living in Great Britain is about 82. So why are Americans lagging behind? The main reason is diet. People are most likely aware that America is suffering from an obesity epidemic. In Japan, only 1.5 percent of the population is obese. In France, six percent of the population is obese. In the United States, 36 percent of the population is obese.
Why is the obesity rate in the United States so much higher than other countries? The diet of Americans, also known as the "western diet" is not exactly healthy. As Americans we eat a lot of processed foods, foods that are higher in fat and sugar, foods high in sodium, and not enough fruits and vegetables. We also modify our foods by adding a lot of antibiotics and chemicals to our foods. All of these unnatural and overconsumed ingredients and hormones are causing people to gain weight, as well as become more prone to more serious health conditions such as diabetes.
The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are over $190 billion or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the United States. For childhood obesity alone, about $14 billion is spent in medical costs. The total medical cost spent diabetes is over $200 billion, and for heart disease, is over $400 billion.
As a result of the obesity epidemic, people are developing more serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. All of these conditions are extremely expensive to manage and cost Americans a lot of money. Americans may be the best in healthcare when considering innovative technologies and advanced forms of treatment for all different types of cancers and disease, however we are behind in our actual health.
We may not be able to control the cost of health care, but we can control our health. And by controlling our health, we can control how much we spend on health care. Therefore it is important to reduce their risk for obesity, which can prevent more serious health conditions. The best way to reduce your risk for obesity, prevent obesity, or get your obesity under control is to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet, know your triggers that make you want to eat more than you should, check your weight on a regular basis, and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle that lasts for the rest of your life instead of just temporarily.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City. Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter and Facebook.