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Americans exercising more, but health ranks low

Americans are making more of an effort to exercise, but that hasn’t done much to reverse our slide into obesity or improve our health compared to other nations. We’ve increased our average life expectancy — from 75 years to 78 years from 1990 to 2010 — but other countries have made more dramatic improvements despite the greater amount of money Americans spend on health care.

Those findings, which were reported in several new studies published last Wednesday, confirm much of what we already know. We’re doing a lousy job as a nation healthwise.

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While the United States outpaces other countries when it comes to treating certain killers like strokes, breast cancer, and colon cancer, Americans die on average four years earlier than those living in Japan, Iceland, or Switzerland, according to one of the studies that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Other new research found more Americans than ever are getting a sufficient level of exercise but this has done little to reduce excess body fat. Researchers also found differing life expectancy rates in various states and various counties within those states with those in Marin County, Calif., living as long as the Swiss and Japanese.

How does Massachusetts fare? State residents lived about 1.5 years longer than the national average of 76 years for men and 81 years for women in 2010.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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