Obesity, Violence Helps Push US to No. 28 in Global Health Ratings

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The study is titled “Measuring the Health-Related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: A Baseline Analysis From the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.” In it, the United States does not do very well for a developed nation, ranking number 28. Decades of growing obesity and ongoing violence are at the top of the list of factors.

It is shocking to look at the nations ahead of the United States. Tied at the top are Iceland, Singapore and Sweden. Scandinavian nations often do well on global health care and well-being measures. Universal health care and generally healthy lifestyles are usually cited. Andorra is in fourth place, followed by the United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Norway. The United States is behind Japan and just ahead of Estonia.

On a scale of 1 to 100, as applied to all 188 nations, the United States has a rank of 69 for obesity in ages 2 to 4. It also receives a rank of 42 for violence per 100,000 people and 54 for alcoholism.

The overall study is massive:

We applied statistical methods to systematically compiled data to estimate the performance of 33 health-related SDG indicators for 188 countries from 1990 to 2015. We rescaled each indicator on a scale from 0 (worst observed value between 1990 and 2015) to 100 (best observed). Indices representing all 33 health-related SDG indicators (health-related SDG index), health-related SDG indicators included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG index), and health-related indicators not included in the MDGs (non-MDG index) were computed as the geometric mean of the rescaled indicators by SDG target. We used spline regressions to examine the relations between the Socio-demographic Index (SDI, a summary measure based on average income per person, educational attainment, and total fertility rate) and each of the health-related SDG indicators and indices.

Based on recent trends in violence and obesity, the United States is not likely to do better.