OECD health report: Majority of people overweight

Leslie Hanson
November 13, 2017

A new report states that thanks to healthier lifestyles and higher incomes, life expectancy in The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries has actually increased by over 10 years.

The average rate of overweight adults in the OECD is 54 percent - and in Israel, it's not much lower: it's 53 percent.

The average life expectancy increase in all 35 member countries was 10 years. The highest life expectancy was recorded in Japan (83.9 years), Spain and Switzerland (83 years), while the lowest was recorded in Latvia (74.6 years) and Mexico (75 years).

Average life expectancy for men with higher education is 7.5 years longer than for those without.

According to the report, if the rates of smoking and drinking alcohol were 50% lower, life expectancy would have increased by 13 more months.

"Healthier lifestyles, higher incomes and better education have all contributed to boost life expectancy in recent decades", the report said. In the U.S., for example, health expenditure has risen more than in any other country since 1995, but the increase in life expectancy was relatively low.

"Health spending per capita has grown [by] around 1.4 percent annually since 2009, compared to 3.6 per cent in the six years up to 2009", the report's summary said. In 1970, the average Israeli only lived to be 71.8-years-old.

However, spending more money on health does not necessarily equate to higher life expectancy.

"Reducing wasteful spending is key to maximise the impact of public resources on health outcomes", the report says, pointing to the increased use of cheaper generic drugs in some countries - including the US. Increased use of generic drugs has led to cost savings in most countries, accounting for more than 75% of pharmaceutical sales in the US, Chile, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but only 25% in Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland and Greece. In Greece and France the volume of prescriptions for antibiotics is very high relative to the OECD average.

The obesity figures in this latest report are certain to cause concern both among policymakers and the general population, but it also contains some encouraging signs for public health here. In Israel, only 7% of cataract surgery patients were hospitalized overnight.

The OECD report said that is essential for Mexico to improve its health care system because it is plagued with inefficiencies and fragmented, meaning that the level of care and prices offered to patients can vary significantly.

The survey found that smoking has declined throughout the OECD, and in Israel, only 19.6% of people smoke daily.

On the plus side, fewer people are dying following heart attacks or strokes, and across the OECD countries, five-year survival rates for breast cancer are up to 85 per cent and just over 60 per cent for colon and rectal cancers. In addition, 19% of adults in the OECD suffer from obesity, compared with 17% in Israel.

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