is evidence that better health is achievable for Americans. The same lesson will apply to other countries if epidemiologic trends cause health improvements in their societies to falter, because they too will know that they are capable of achieving better health outcomes for their populations.

That the health of Americans does not meet the standard that now exists in other rich nations is a tragedy for all age groups, but especially for children. Behind the statistics detailed in this report are the faces of young people—infants, children, and adolescents—who are unwell and dying early because conditions in this country are not as favorable as those in other countries. Overall, young Americans are entering adulthood in poorer health than their counterparts in other countries and therefore face a future with greater risks of disease and the other life challenges they bring than did their parents.

This alone is reason enough for concern, but the nation’s leaders—in government and business—also understand what the nation can expect from a future generation of workers, executives, and military recruits whose illnesses and socioeconomic disadvantages compromise their productivity and require more intensive health care. This forecast has obvious implications for national security and for the economy—the price tag of the U.S. health disadvantage is unlikely to be small.

With this many lives and dollars at stake, we believe the U.S. health disadvantage is a problem the country can no longer afford to ignore.

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