Americans spend more money on health care than in any other country in the world. According to a new study published in health affairs by researchers from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, one reason may be the size of our waistlines. Americans spend over $6,000 per person each year on health care, the highest in the world and twice as much as European nations. A new study from researchers at Emory University's School of Public Health suggests Americans' poor health habits may be partly to blame. Researchers examined the rates of 10 of the most common and costly chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke and arthritis among those over age 50. Overall, the rates were significantly higher in the United States than in Europe. Obesity and smoking were more prevalent in the US as well: 33 percent of Americans were obese, compared to 17 percent of Europeans. Fifty-three percent of Americans had smoked tobacco in contrast to 43 percent of Europeans. As a result, every chronic illness closely linked to obesity or smoking was more common in the US, leading to higher health care costs overall. The researchers estimated that if the US could improve its population's health to the European level, Americans would save on average over $1200 per year on medical bills.
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