- Lax gun security and poor healthcare contribute to low American ranking
- Life expectancy for men ranked the lowest with only 75.6 years and American women came in at second lowest with 80.7 years
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 15:22 EST, 9 January 2013 | UPDATED: 16:11 EST, 9 January 2013
The United States has far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation in part because there are so many residents who own guns and store them in unlocked places in their homes.
The lax gun rules are a major contributor to the low life expectancy rate that Americans have compared to their global counterparts.
That claim comes just weeks after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and as politicians make calls for stricter gun controls.
The United States has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents and none of the 16 other countries included in the review came anywhere close to that ratio.
Finland was closest to the U.S. ranking with slightly more than two violent deaths per 100,000 residents.
The researchers said there is little evidence that violent acts occur more frequently in the United States than elsewhere. It’s the lethality of those attacks that stands out.
‘One behavior that probably explains the excess lethality of violence and unintentional injuries in the United States is the widespread possession of firearms and the common practice of storing them (often unlocked) at home. The statistics are dramatic,’ the report said.
For example, the United States has the highest rate of firearm ownership among peer countries — 89 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans, and the U.S. is home to about 35 to 50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms, the report noted.
Congress is taking a renewed look at gun legislation, but the researchers said in a conference call they were just as concerned about factors that have nothing to do with guns, such as the high prevalence of illness among teenagers and young adults.
While 2012 was a particularly shocking year in terms of mass shootings- with the movie theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 people dead and 58 injured, and more recently 26 people were killed at the Newtown, Connecticut massacre- Americans have been dying younger than their global counterparts for years.
In addition to the impact of gun violence, Americans consume the most calories among peer countries and get involved in more accidents that involve alcohol.
The U.S. also suffers higher rates of drug-related deaths, infant mortality and AIDS.
The result is that the life expectancy for men in the United States ranked the lowest among the 17 countries reviewed, at 75.6 years, while the life expectancy for U.S. women ranked second lowest at 80.7 years.
The other 16 countries that were reviewed in the study by two of the nation’s leading health research institutions included Canada, Japan, Australia and much of Western Europe.
The nation’s health disadvantages have economic consequences as they lead to higher costs for consumers and taxpayers as well as a workforce that remains less healthy than that of other high-income countries.
‘With lives and dollars at stake, the United States cannot afford to ignore this problem,’ said the report from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.
In attempting to explain why Americans are so unhealthy, the researchers looked at three categories: the nation’s health care system, harmful behaviors and social and economic conditions.
Researchers noted that the U.S. has a large uninsured population compared to other countries with comparable economies, and more limited access to primary care.
And although the income of Americans is higher on average than that of other wealthy countries, the United States also has a higher level of poverty, especially among children.