World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 each year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. WHO is the authority for health within the United Nations system, according to its website.
There is no single measure in defining health, but there are a number of factors that can be examined. The folks at The Social Progress Imperative have given it a go with their study of 132 nations, examining 54 social and environmental indicators for each country, broken down into three categories: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity.
The group has put together this handy video comparing the top performing countries‘ standard of living based on quality of life and good health with the U.K. ranked at #13 and the U.S. at #16.:
We pulled together some “light reading” based on health statistics for both the U.K. and U.S. and here is what we found:
1. Staying in Shape
- According to the exercise register there are over 4,000 health clubs, gyms, and leisure centers in the U.K., which is roughly one gym for every 16,000 people.
- As of 2012, there were 30,500 health clubs listed in the U.S. Yellow Pages, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. That’s one gym for every 10,420 people.
2. Weight Watching
- A survey published in 2012 found that just over a quarter of all adults (26%) in England are obese. A further 41% of men and 33% of women are classed as overweight, reports the NHS.
- More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese, according to the Journal of American Medicine.
3. Down Time
- Almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave). An employer can include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave, reports the U.K. government’s website.
- There are zero mandatory leave days in the U.S., vacation time is up to the employer, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Some employees need to work six month before “earning” time off. Time off may be negotiated when accepting the job, a typical time-frame for first starting a full-time position is two weeks.
4. Alcohol Consumption
- U.K. = 11.67
- U.S. = 8.44
The below numbers are based on alcohol consumption among adults (age 15+) in liters per capita per year, 2005-2011, based on a survey conducted by WHO.
5. Tobacco Consumption
- In the financial year 2011-2012, 42,813 million cigarettes were released in the UK for consumption, compared to 45,678 million in 2010-2011. In 2012, adult smoking rates by country were: England 20%, Scotland 23%, Wales 23%, Northern Ireland 24% based on the Action on Smoking report.
- As of 2014, the current number of American smokers is 18.1% (42.1 million people). More than 293 billion cigarettes were purchased in the United States in 2011, with three companies selling nearly 85% of them, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
6. Mental Health
- The Health and Social Care Information Centre published data showing that more than 50 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were issued in England during 2012, which is an increase of 7.5% from the year before, reports BBC News.
- One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four, reports The New York Times.
- The U.K. population is offered healthcare through the National Healthcare System (NHS). The NHS’s website describes the service as “free at the point of use for anyone who is a resident in the U.K.,” covering more than 63.2 million people.
- In 2012, the United States Census Bureau said, 15.4 percent of people were uninsured, down from 15.7 percent in 2011. Even so, that leaves approximately 48 million people without insurance, reports The New York Times. In 2013 the Affordable Care Act made health insurance mandatory in the U.S., but it’s dependent on individuals enrolling and being able to cover the monthly fees.
8. Death Rate
- U.K. = 9.33
- U.S. = 8.39
The above numbers are according to the CIA World Factbook estimates based on deaths per year per 1000 people in 2013.
9. Birth Rate
- U.K. = 12.26
- U.S. = 13.66
The above numbers are according to the CIA World Factbook estimates based on births per year per 1000 people in 2013.
10. Life Expectancy
- U.K. = 79.53
- U.S. = 77.97
The above numbers are according to the United Nations.
Based on our non-scientific look-see, we have come to the brief conclusion that Brits smoke and drink more than Americans, but they will live longer. Possibly it’s because they have more time off from work and the ability to pop to the doctor with no or minimal financial burden. Americans have a lower death rate and higher birth rate, but if something happens like an accident or unexpected diagnosis they may not have the proper healthcare to look after themselves.
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