9 March 2011
General levels of health are better in the UK than they are in the US, despite the former spending less per capita on health services.
New research published in the US shows that Americans fare worse when it comes to a number of conditions including diabetes and heart disease.
However, the underlying causes of the disparity between health levels on either side of the Atlantic remains unclear.
"Why health status differs so dramatically in these two countries, which share much in terms of history and culture, is an unresolved puzzle," the researchers claimed.
They noted that alcohol consumption, obesity and differences in physical activity levels did not seem to be the problem.
Dr Melissa Martinson, lead author of the study, said while smoking may well be a factor it did not account for the discrepancy in health levels amongst younger people.
Hospital stays and levels of consultation were lower in the US than in the UK and some commentators believe that shorter holidays in the States could exacerbate health differences.
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