The National Research Council released an alarming report on the health of Americans. America ranks at or near the bottom among affluent democracies in a number of key health areas, including infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; prevalence of HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability. In terms of life expectancy, American men and women die younger than any European country. See chart (pdf warning).
Clearly, America's gun culture plays a role in the early death statistics:
Besonders erstaunlich ist, dass sich an dem schlechten Abschneiden kaum etwas ändert, wenn man nur weiße, nicht rauchende US-Amerikaner mit College-Ausbildung, gutem Einkommen und Krankenversicherung betrachtet. Die Forscher fordern jetzt eine nationale Diskussion über die Ursachen. Dass 69 Prozent aller Morde mit Schusswaffen begangen werden, zeigt eine Verbindung zu der aktuellen Diskussion zum Thema Waffenbesitz.
(It's especially surprising that the poor statistics hardly change when you look at just white, non-smoking Americans who have a college detree, good income and health insurance. The researchers call for a national discussion concerning the causes. The fact that 69% of all murders are committed with firearms points to a connection with the current discussion concerning gun ownership.)
Undoubtedly, there are regional differences as well. I spend a great deal of time in New York City, where people are generally much more physically fit since they walk everywhere and take public transportation. Also, New York has one of the lowest murder rates thanks to strict gun control laws. The situation is very different in places like Mississippi, where morbidly obese men and women have gun racks on their pick-up trucks that they drive to fast-food outlets..
In most places, a report like this would provoke a national outcry and much hand-wringing. How can we help our fellow citizens? But the United States is not like most places. Here, Republican politicians vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act - aka "Obamacare" - which would provide insurance coverage to 30 million additional Americans.; the gun lobby will block any meaningful restrictions on firearms; Coca-Cola launches a multi-million ad campaign to reassure the public that is sugar-laden products are "health food". And if you should be a victim of gun violence, or die from some disease caused by eating unhealthy food - well, that's too bad. You're living - or rather dying - in the Land of the Free, my friend.