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I think a better indicator of well being among adults would be life expectancy at age 20 or there abouts, an age adjusted life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth can be swayed by infant mortality rates.

Sasha Castel

I was having this debate with someone last year. I pretty much shut down the argument when I said "People can die of cancer at 70 because they no longer die of malaria at 12".

Michael Cassell

Mr. Balko,

You wrote:

"Big GDP equals long life expectancy. Small GDP equals early death."

Surely then you and your big brained friends at the Cato Institute, a bastion of free market thought, can explain to all of us why Americans on average outlive the citizens of Communist Cuba by a mere half year? And why Cuban males actually outlive American males? Sorry, I just thought capitalism was the only way to go. I'm confused now.

Also, the previous comments do highlight several major flaws in comparing life expectancies due to infant mortalities. So I guess comparing Cuba and the United States is unfair because Cuba does have a lower infant mortality rate. Wait a minute...

Sriracha Piments-Forts

Spurlock's use of cancer data is a bit weak, but your GDP/life expectancy counter-argument is pretty far off the mark. There is a correlation between GDP and life expectancy, but cancer incidence and cancer mortality are just part of the overall life expectancy picture. Just because the US and other high-GDP countries have a longer life expectancy than others doesn't mean that we get less cancer.

Also, it seems to me that looking at mortality rates doesn't tell us all that much about the (possible) link between obesity and cancer. I expect that differences in mortality rates tell us more about the differences in quality of healthcare than they do about any relationship (or lack thereof) between obesity and cancer. To find that, you really need to look at incidence of cancer -- Americans clearly have a better chance of surviving cancer, but that obviously doesn't mean that we get it less.

Livan Hernandez

Michael, trust me. Cubans living in Cuba would be better off with a SHORTER life expectancy.


Cuba does have a lower infant mortality rate

Cuba calculates its infant mortality rate differently; in particular many infants who are not expected to live for one reason or another (say due to premature birth) are omitted from the Cuban statistics, while the US includes them. So the numbers are not directly comparable.

They do do a good job maintaining their healthcare system considering the crushing poverty that communism has caused. But central planning can usually do well in a couple of chosen areas by allocating resources to them - it just fails in aggregate.

bladder control

This was a nice thought, "People can die of cancer at 70 because they no longer die of malaria at 12".

Sam Nisbett

Fat Burning Furnace Review

"Where do people eat high-fiber, plant-based diets? The nonindustrial world, that's where. Where do people eat too much meat and fat? Guess." ...So completely true! We need to start focusing on how eating such greasy and fatty foods is destroying our society!

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