Research: Canadians Have Less Disease than Americans, Too

First the redcoats, now the red leaves! Last week DiseaseProof looked at a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing the British are healthier than Americans. This week new research indicates our neighbors to the north are healthier too. MSNBC reports:

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.

This graph from the Associated Press shows additional health disparities found during this study:


The knee-jerk reaction to this study (other than panic) is to point to Canada's national health insurance program as an explanation. Some researchers adhere to the idea, but others dismiss it as anecdotal:

Canada's national health insurance program is at least part of the reason for the differences found in the study, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a co-author of the Canadian study said. Universal coverage makes it easier for more Canadians to get disease-preventing health services, she said.

James Smith, a RAND Corp. researcher who co-authored the American-English study, disagreed. His research found that England's national health insurance program did not explain the difference in disease rates, because even Americans with insurance were in worse health.

"To me, that's unlikely," he said of the idea that universal coverage explains international differences.

Research like this is fascinating. But it does little improve your health, no matter where you live. In the meantime do your own research. Check out all the research on a nutrient-rich vegetable-based diet and how it can protect against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

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anet - May 31, 2006 8:04 PM

A Canadian aquantaince was aghast at our large fast food portions. She told my friend that in Canada at the SAME restaurant the servings were not so huge as those in American franchises.

Leanne - June 1, 2006 12:11 AM

When I moved in the States for a year back in 1998/9 from Australia (I'm based in Mebourne, Australia), I was surprised to see that Americans were visibly fatter than Aussies. It was very noticeable, and not only was the average person on the street fatter, but there was a much larger number of morbidly obese people around.

While based in the US, I visited Canada, and noticed the opposite - that Canadians were leaner than Americans. And while in the States, I also flew across to the UK for two weeks, and was stunned to see how much leaner the average UK citizen was than the typical American. In fact, while on the plane I played a little guessing game with myself, picking who was American and who was British by body size alone, then moving over to listen to their accent and confirm or deny my guess. I was seldom wrong.

I'm not saying that the poor health of US citizens is entirely linked to diet and the related excess body fat, but there seems to be a strong link, doesn't there?

However, in the last few years I have found, on subsequent visits to the US, that the gap between Aussies and our American friends is narrowing - we're getting fatter, and catching up to American waistlines. And fast.

I've been recommending Dr Fuhrman's book 'Eat To Live' to everyone I know who is intrested in turning this trend around, and am thrilled to report that down here in Melbourne we are creating a small community of wellness, based on the sensible dietary principles that Dr Fuhrman teaches.

As more friends comment on our amazing weight loss and great health (I've lost 30 kgs/66 pounds since Sep 05, and my best friend has lost 10 kgs/22 pounds since Feb) the word is getting around that great health *is* attainable, and you can still eat great, tasty food :-) People want a part of the action, and are starting to realise that traditional 'diets' simply don't cut the mustard.

We're doing well, and I hope to report even more success in the future!

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