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Interpreting Americas Healthcare Paradox – Understanding Causes and Consequences

Interpreting Americas Healthcare Paradox – Understanding Causes and Consequences

The United States has invested heavily in healthcare to offer its citizens high-quality healthcare services. The main investments in the healthcare sector in the country include providing medical insurance, equipping hospitals with the resources needed to offer quality care, and disbursing enough funds to pay healthcare workers, conduct medical research, and acquire the technology required to provide high-quality care. However, despite spending too much on healthcare, the United States is not a very healthy society due to the high prevalence of chronic lifestyle diseases. This research will focus on exploring the issue of lifestyle diseases in American society by answering the following research questions; what are the epidemiological issues? What are the statistical facts related to the issue? What are the causes of the issue? And what are the consequences of the issue?

What are the epidemiological issues?

Lifestyle diseases are health issues caused by people’s daily habits and lifestyle choices. According to Tabish (2017), the causes of lifestyle diseases can be classified into different categories. One of the categories is modifiable behaviors such as bad eating habits, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and smoking. The World Health Organization indicated that more than 7 million people die annually because of excessive consumption of tobacco, 4.1 million die because of alcohol consumption, and 1.65 million die because of other lifestyle diseases (Tabish, 2017). The second category is non-modifiable risk factors such as race, age, gender, and genetics. Genetics, age, gender, and race increase people’s vulnerability to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity. In some cases, children may be born obese or with diabetes if their parents have the disease. The third category is metabolic risk factors, such as an increase in the level of fat in a person’s body, an increase in blood pressure, an increase in blood glucose, and obesity.

According to Tabish (2017), high blood pressure is the main metabolic risk factor contributing to 19% of lifestyle diseases worldwide, followed by obesity and increased fat levels. The four main lifestyle diseases affecting most countries, including the United States, are cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are heart-related complications that arise when the blood vessels are affected. They include stroke, ischemic, peripheral arterial, and congenital heart disease. Cancer affects different body parts and is characterized by the rapid development of abnormal cells. Consistently, diabetes is a metabolism issue that interferes with how the body uses food for physical growth and energy. The main types of diabetes are pre-diabetes, type 1 and 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes (Thomas et al., 2016). Lastly, chronic respiratory diseases affect a person’s breathing ability, leading to heart or lung failure. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma are the most prevalent chronic respiratory diseases worldwide.

What are the Statistical Facts Related to the Issue?

Lifestyle diseases are a major global issue. According to Tabish (2017), approximately more than 7 million deaths are a result of cancer, and lifestyle choices cause 30% of cancer cases worldwide. Lifestyle diseases are also the main cause of death worldwide, and they represent over 17 million deaths per year, and the number is anticipated to increase to over 23 million by 2030 (Tabish, 2017).In the United States, lifestyle disease continues to impact many societies’ overall health. According to Raghupathi & Raghupathi (2018), more than two-thirds of the deaths in the United States are caused by one or more lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes. Lifestyle diseases are also the main cause of seven deaths out of 10 in the United States, leading to the death of more than 1.7 million Americans annually. However, the United States has been unable to treat lifestyle diseases because most people suffer from more than one chronic disease. Tinker (2017) argues that more than half of the adults in the United States have three or more lifestyle diseases, and the likelihood of developing more diseases increases with age. It is estimated that by 2029, 10,000 Americans will be 65 years thus increasing the risk of a high prevalence of lifestyle diseases. A study by Schmidt (2022) also established that the top ten health problems in the United States are cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, and diabetes. The study also found that the country’s aging population, combined with prevailing risk factors such as poor nutrition, the use of tobacco, and lack of physical activity as well as the medical inventions that extend people’s lifespans, have led to the conclusion that the prevalence of lifestyle diseases in the country is going to increase if it is not addressed within the shortest time possible. According to Raghupathi & Raghupathi (2018), there is a high prevalence of lifestyle diseases among the aging population globally today and six in ten adults in the United States have lifestyle diseases, and four in ten adults have more than one lifestyle disease, while in Sweden the prevalence rate of lifestyle diseases among adults. The diseases significantly increase healthcare costs. For instance, Raghupathi & Raghupathi (2018) states that in Sweden, healthcare costs increased by 5.5% among elderly patients with more than one lifestyle disease compared to elderly patients with only one or no lifestyle disease.

What are the Causes of the Increase in Lifestyle Diseases in the United States?

The United States is among the countries with a high prevalence of lifestyle diseases globally. One of the leading causes of the disease is smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021), more than 16 million people in the United States have more than one disease linked to smoking, amounting to more than $20 million in healthcare costs that could be reduced annually if young people in the country would stop smoking. Cornelius et al. (2020) argue that although cigarette smoking in the United States has reduced over the past decades, there has been an increase in other noncombustible and combustible tobacco products that mainly target the youth leading to a high increase in smoking among young people. The authors add that from 2019 to 2020, there was a high prevalence of the use of tobacco, especially among young people.79.6% of the smokers used combustible products such as pipes, cigars, and cigarettes, while 17.3% used more than one tobacco product.

The high prevalence of lifestyle diseases in the United States is also caused by the cultural and environmental changes that have reduced people’s daily opportunities to burn calories. For instance, there has been an increase in sedentary life because most people spend their free time indoors using their phones or computers and watching television leading to obesity, especially among adolescents and children. Technological advancements have also led to using labor-saving machines to do most household chores, thus decreasing physical activity. There has also been a rise in the reliance on cars for transportation rather than walking even on short distances, thus increasing the risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity. Another leading cause of lifestyle diseases in the United States is an unhealthy diet. Over the past decade, there has been a rise in fast food companies in the United States, thus promoting the consumption of unhealthy food. Most people also consume junk food because of their busy schedules since they do not have time to prepare a healthy meal.

What are the Consequences of the Increase in Lifestyle Diseases in the United States?

Lifestyle diseases have a major impact on the United States government and society. According to Raghupathi & Raghupathi (2018), lifestyle diseases increase healthcare costs in the United States because the cost of treating the most common lifestyle diseases may cost more than $1 trillion per year. Another consequence of the increased lifestyle diseases in the United States is reduced quality of life, thus limiting mobility. For example, lifestyle diseases such as obesity may create self-esteem issues and increase the risk of academic, social, and job discrimination. Lifestyle diseases also impact the productivity of the United States workforce because of absenteeism and psychological issues linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity. Some companies have also created a policy that prevents individuals with certain lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and chronic heart disease, from holding certain positions in the workplace or getting a job, especially if the company offers healthcare insurance. This has resulted in increased inequality in the United States job market because some people with the proper knowledge and skills to do a job are prevented from participating in the labor market because of their health. Another consequence of the high prevalence of lifestyle disease in the United States is an increased demand for healthcare services, thus leading to burnout among healthcare workers, especially those in public healthcare facilities. Maresova et al. (2019) state that lifestyle diseases require long treatment periods, leading to increased demand for healthcare services. Therefore, healthcare facilities may experience a rapid increase in the demand for healthcare services, especially if most patients require special care. The increase in the demand for healthcare services also creates a risk of reduced quality of care because healthcare facilities have to work with the available resources to ensure that every patient receives the care they need.


The United States government’s efforts to improve healthcare in the country have led to an increase in healthcare spending to the point that the United States is considered one of the countries that spend most on healthcare among the rich countries in the world. However, the country’s high prevalence of lifestyle diseases leads to the conclusion that the United States is not a very healthy society. Statistics indicate that lifestyle diseases are the country’s leading cause of death and may continue impacting its aging population if they are not addressed within the shortest time. The main causes of the diseases are smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. Therefore, it is important to create awareness of these causes among United States citizens to reduce the prevalence of lifestyle diseases. People should also be enlightened about the consequences of lifestyle diseases to be motivated to take appropriate preventive measures. The main consequences include increased healthcare costs, limitations in accessing job opportunities, and reduced quality of life. The United States government should also focus on promoting a healthy society by educating people on healthy living rather than only investing in healthcare technology, insurance, and research


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, October 29). Health effects of cigarette smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from

Cornelius, M. E., Wang, T. W., Jamal, A., Loretan, C. G., & Neff, L. J. (2020). Tobacco product use among adults — United States, 2019. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(46), 1736–1742.

Maresova, P., Javanmardi, E., Barakovic, S., Barakovic Husic, J., Tomsone, S., Krejcar, O., & Kuca, K. (2019). Consequences of chronic diseases and other limitations associated with old age – a scoping review. BMC Public Health, 19(1).

Raghupathi, W., & Raghupathi, V. (2018). An empirical study of chronic diseases in the United States: A visual analytics approach to Public Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(3), 431.

Schmidt, H. (2022, February 22). Top 10 most expensive chronic diseases for healthcare payers. HealthPayerIntelligence. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from

Tabish, S. (2017). Lifestyle diseases: Consequences, characteristics, causes, and control. Journal of Cardiology & Current Research, 9(3).

Thomas, N., Behera, K., Naik, D., & Kapoor, N. (2016). Secondary diabetes and other specific types. A Practical Guide to Diabetes Mellitus, 427–427.

Tinker, A. (2017). How to improve patient outcomes diseases and comorbidities for chronic. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from


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Even though the US spends the most on healthcare among all rich countries, we are not a very healthy society.

Interpreting Americas Healthcare Paradox – Understanding Causes and Consequences

Interpreting Americas Healthcare Paradox – Understanding Causes and Consequences

What are the causes and consequences of this paradox?

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