Funny how "national health" leads to a "healthy nation"

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 04:45 PM

I'm sure it's too simple and common sensical for our Republican leaders to comprehend, but should it be surprising that countries with a "national health" plan turn out to be "healthy nations," at least compared to the U.S.?

An AP story today adds Canada to the list of national health countries that appear to be healthier than the good old U. S. of A., and its hodgepodge of supposedly market-driven health care mechanisms:

Americans are 42 percent more likely than Canadians to have diabetes, 32 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, and 12 percent more likely to have arthritis, Harvard Medical School researchers found. That is according to a survey in which American and Canadian adults were asked over the telephone about their health.

The study comes less than a month after other researchers reported that middle-aged, white Americans are much sicker than their counterparts in England.

"We're really falling behind other nations," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a co-author of the Canadian study.

Exactly, my good doctor.  And it isn't limited to health care.

Of course, there's some evidence that we still have a prayer:

According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, regular church attendance is an effective way to increase life expectancy. Specifically, people who attend a religious service on a weekly basis tend to prolong their life 1.8 to 3.1 years. In comparison, regular physical exercise prolongs life 3.0 to 5.1 years, while proven therapeutic regimens add 2.1 to 3.7 years to a person?s life. Since the study is a review of existing research, it does not explain the link between faith and health. But Daniel Hall, leader of the study and a resident in general surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, speculates that the social aspect of religion may have something to do with the results. ?There is something about being knit into the type of community that religious communities embody that has a way of mediating a positive health effect,? Hall said. Therefore, being religiously active may decrease your stress level or increase your ability to cope with stress. ?Being in a religious community helps you make meaning out of your life,? he added.

What that didn't tell you is that the author of the study is "a fourth-year surgical resident [who] is also an ordained Episcopal priest."