America’s Youth Have Highest Death Rate of High-Income Countries

Young people aged 10 – 24 years in the U.S. have the highest mortality rate among 27 high-income countries around the world according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, which explores the health habits of adolescents from around the globe.

American youth are #1 in smoking marijuana; young people in Canada, Spain and France are next.

American youth are among the top binge drinkers in the world along with young people from Austria and Ireland. Nearly a third of children aged 15 in the top-ranked countries reported binge drinking, which is defined as drinking five drinks or more in one day. The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21 while it is as low as 16 in other countries; in the highest-ranked nations, at least one out of five adolescents reported binge drinking at least once a week. Norway was found to have the fewest young binge drinkers and the Ukraine the highest.

Young people in the U.S. are not smoking at the same rates as those in countries. Across the globe, rates of smoking in this age group were highest in both boys and girls in Austria, Chile, Malta, and Namibia. In Latin American, North America and many sub-Saharan African countries, rates of tobacco use were similar for boys and girls, while they were higher for boys in most Asian regions, the Caribbean and the eastern Mediterranean.

In a bright spot for U.S. adolescents’ health, those aged 13 – 15 were also found to exercise more than their peers in other countries. Boys in the U.S. ranked at the top in this area and girls second. But in other countries, particularly those in North Africa and the Middle East, “very few girls” met the recommendations for physical activity.

However, with one-third of children in the U.S. categorized as obese, The Lancet said that obesity in the U.S. is an “epidemic.” Rates of obesity were also found to be higher among boys in higher-income countries, with more than a third of boys in Canada, Greece, Italy, Malta and the U.S. overweight. Some lower- and middle- income countries including China, the eastern Mediterranean countries and Latin American countries also reported that one-fifth to one-third of boys were overweight.

With the exception of some Latin American countries, The Lancet found that ”estimates for binge drinking from high-income countries were substantially higher than those derived from low-income and middle-income countries.” It goes without saying that these data present a disturbing portrait not only of the health and the lifestyle choices of young people around the globe. Data showing that young people in the U.S. have such a high mortality rate as compared to other  high-income nations suggests, sadly, that industrial development, access to technology and quality health care and much more do not necessarily lead to good health or habits that promote good health.  How can we better use the knowledge about health and science that we have to lead adolescents healthy lives?


Related Care2 Coverage

Bullying, Obesity and a Young Cook

Binge Drinking is More Likely to Affect Teen Girls

Sexual Activity Too Early Can Lead To Miniature Sex Organs


Photo by VarsityLife


Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

Marijuana smoking is NOT related to suicide. Perhaps the contrary. The cause of mass suicides in developed nations is stress from antiquated institutions that push archaic misinformation down our throats for us to believe and conform to. Only money rules, spiritual knowledge is low in our priorities and war, violence, fear and religious dogma of intolerance reigns supreme. Hence SUICIDE SUICIDE WAR WAR WAR GOP USA USA KOCHroach USA Adelson USA

Alice VS
AA S5 years ago

What about suicide? Here in the UK, it's the top cause of death for 18-25 year old males. Given the number of kids killing themselves due to peer abuse in the past few years I can't imagine that America doesn't have a suicide problem too. Why is that not mentioned when the non-lethal cannabis is?

Charles Temm JR
Charles Temm JR5 years ago

wow, some fairly well done writing here...

the last paragraph was extremely well done as it asked logical questions!

One thing Americans and Canadians do have compared to most of the world is a more risk tolerant culture for teens. Both overall cultures have much free time on their hands and access to many factors that increase risk (high vehicle ownership/access rates, ease of accessing drugs/alcohol, lack of adult supervision etc). Those are huge contributing factors to that death rate disparity

Hello G.
Hello G5 years ago

Thanks. More countries will be ADDED in future if immediate measures not taken!!

Michael M.
Michael M5 years ago

What do you expect? Repukes have all but destroyed this country and are doing everything they can to stop President Obama from making this nation a better place to live.

Steve R.
Steve R5 years ago

What do you expect?

American youth have Obama for president!

Enough to drive anyone to drink and drugs!

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies5 years ago


John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

MEGAN N5 years ago

To all those questioning why the study mentioned Pot use I have a thought... The study mentions many forms of risky and questionable behavior and since pot IS illegal it is questionable and risky behavior. What I think the study shows is that our kids are spoiled and have no concept or risk/cost/ benefit analysis when it comes to their behavior and lifestyle choices. They are seeking cheap thrills with no thought to the consequences of their actions. As parents continue to make excuses for their brats the kids will act worse and worse. Hold them accountable for what they do and maybe they will act better.

Pia Catrine Hoyer
Pia Høyer5 years ago

As I don't know the parameters of the study it's difficult to ascertain what the reasons are for the high death rates in high-income countries compared to low-income countries. But I do have some thoughts on the matter. In Norway a high rate of deaths related to alkohol and drugs is car accidents. The hubris of young people and their sense of immortalityin particular men,