KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Life For Americans, But Obesity Problem Persists

Americans are living longer than they did 20 years ago, but they still lag other countries on life expectancy and the obesity rate, a new study has found.

The Wall Street Journal: Americans Are Living Longer, But Not Necessarily Healthier, Study Shows 
Americans are living longer than they did two decades ago, but they are losing ground on key measures of health to people in other developed nations, a new study shows. The findings, from the most comprehensive analysis of the health of the U.S. population in more than 15 years, show progress in reducing death rates, adjusted for age, across a variety of diseases. But death rates from illnesses associated with obesity, such as diabetes and kidney disease, as well as neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease, are on the rise (Winslow, 7/10).

NBC News: Americans Live A Little Longer, Still Lag Other Rich Countries (Video)
Americans may be living longer and even exercising a little more, but we really are not much healthier than we were 10 years ago and we are still far behind other rich countries when it comes to our health, researchers said Wednesday. The biggest survey of U.S. health in 15 years breaks down death, disease and disability county by county -- and makes some very unflattering comparisons to other countries. It's a big, comprehensive dive into what kills us and what makes us sick (Fox, 7/10).

Medpage Today: Gains Made, But U.S. Still Lags In Life Expectancy
The overall life expectancy in the U.S. increased from 75 to 78 years during the period of 1990 to 2010, but with an increase in expected years lost to disability (9.4 to 10.1 years), according to Christopher Murray, MD, DPhil, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. Compared with other countries, the U.S. dropped in its rankings in terms of life expectancy at birth (going from No. 20 to No. 27), life years lost to premature death (moving from 23rd to 28th), healthy life expectancy (jumping from 14th on the list to 26th), and age-standardized death rate (18th to 27th) between 1990 and 2010, they wrote in the study published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Pittman, 7/10). 

And in another study --

Los Angeles Times: We're Exercising More But Still Fighting Obesity, Study Shows
Americans are exercising more, but that has not done much to slim their waistlines, underscoring the immense challenge confronting doctors and health advocates fighting the nation's obesity crisis. In more than two-thirds of the nation's counties -- including some of the unhealthiest -- men and women became more physically active over the last decade, according to data published Wednesday in the online journal Population Health Metrics. Three-quarters of California's counties saw gains in physical fitness for both men and women (Levey and Gorman, 7/10).

And one major American city limits group exercise in their public parks -- 

The New York Times: In Health-Conscious Denver, Limits On Group Exercise
In Denver, one of the healthiest cities in America, fitness fans are fuming over rules from the city and private officials that restrict group exercise in parks and open spaces. "You can smoke pot, but you can't exercise," Mr. Lindley said, as the scent of a newly legalized substance drifted past. "This is Colorado." A skirmish over exercise in the public square seems fitting in a place where people spend more on road bikes than on their cars, and Lycra attire is the unofficial uniform of the weekend (Healy, 7/10).

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