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Health disadvantage in US adults aged 50 to 74 years: a comparison of the health of rich and poor Americans with that of Europeans

By Mauricio Avendano, M. Maria Glymour, James Banks and Johann P. Mackenbach

Abstract

Objectives We compared the health of older US, English, and other European adults, stratified by wealth. Methods Representative samples of adults aged 50 to 74 years were interviewed in 2004 in 10 European countries (n = 17 481), England (n = 6527), and the United States (n = 9940). We calculated prevalence rates of 6 chronic diseases and functional limitations. Results American adults reported worse health than did English or European adults. Eighteen percent of Americans reported heart disease, compared with 12% of English and 11% of Europeans. At all wealth levels, Americans were less healthy than were Europeans, but differences were more marked among the poor. Health disparities by wealth were significantly smaller in Europe than in the United States and England. Odds ratios of heart disease in a comparison of the top and bottom wealth tertiles were 1.94 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.69, 2.24) in the United States, 2.13 (95% CI = 1.73, 2.62) in England, and 1.38 (95% CI = 1.23, 1.56) in Europe. Smoking, obesity, physical activity levels, and alcohol consumption explained a fraction of health variations. Conclusions American adults are less healthy than Europeans at all wealth levels. The poorest Americans experience the greatest disadvantage relative to Europeans

Topics: RA Public aspects of medicine
Publisher: American Public Health Association
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.139469
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:36712
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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