Raising the Grade: Why Catching Up With the Rest of the World #StartsWithYOU

April 6, 2015


US Health Performance, Healthy UNH Blog post
While we are all proud to be a part of the red, white and blue, it is no secret that the US isn’t the healthiest nation in the world. 

The real question is — how bad is it? While it may be hard to visualize the issues, let me put it into perspective with some facts:

  • Life expectancy, compared to the rest of the world, is ranked at a mere 42nd (79.56 years).
  • Incidence of low birth weight is 8%, with 315,099 babies born in 2013 under 5 pounds 8 ounces
  • Since 1987, pregnancy related deaths has skyrocketed from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live birth to an all- time high of 17.8 in 2009 and 2011.
  • 1 in every 4 people die of heart disease, totaling to about 610,000 every single year
  • 69 percent of people age 20 and over are overweight
  • The death rate from drug overdoses has more than doubled from 1999 through 2013.
The bottom line is simply — we need to take action. 

While the United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, the U.S consistently underperforms in comparison to similar nations.  According to the Common Wealth Fund in a study of comparative countries, we ranked last in efficiency, equity, healthy lives, and in overall ranking. Whether it be decreasing hospital density, shorter average hospital stays, or a high percentage of specialists in comparison to relative nations, it is no secret that the United States trails far behind.  But, how could this be? We have state-of-the art hospitals, we’re leaders in utilizing advanced procedures, technology, and pharmaceuticals; there just seems to be something missing.

Well, as a nation, we prioritize “sick care” in taking action when sick, injured, or when something is simply wrong, which speaks to our extremely low rankings as a nation in terms of health. 

What we need to do is prioritize our health and well-being, not just when we’re ill or injured, but every, single, day. 

To do this, we need to understand the importance of public health, a system that connects us all through improving and promoting health and well-being, preventing disease, addressing health disparities, and doing so by targeting populations. 

 Well, public health starts at an individual level. 

That’s right, it #StartsWithYOU.  Your health and well-being is affected by your choices throughout the day: taking an hour to go to the gym after work or choosing a health conscious meal for lunch.  Luckily, here at UNH, the university and other organizations such as Healthy UNH make it enjoyable and easy to make decisions that put your health first, from our freshmen #UNH18 all the way to our faculty and staff:

  • The Wildcat Plate which illustrates proper portions and diversification while choosing your food
  • Guiding Stars which indicates the most nutritious food choice as well as key nutritional information
  • Group exercise classes for all types and abilities
  • Outdoor recreation including anything from kayaking, to cross country skiing, to rock climbing
  • Stress management resources, such as classes, massage therapy, and biofeedback sessions
Take the initiative to put your health first, and promote healthy behavior. 

Join the initiative in getting our nation on track, take a picture of you making a healthy choice, post it online, and hashtag #StartsWithYOU to show your efforts! Remember: In order to make a difference with public health, it all start with you. 

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