Episode 140: Expanding our view of health

When it comes to the state of our health, there is a glaring disconnect in the US, says Sandro Galea. We spend far more on health care per capita than any country, yet we’re far less healthy than those in many other developed countries as measured by all sorts of indicators, including life expectancy.

Our cutting-edge new medical treatments and drugs are wonderful, says the dean of the Boston University School of Public Health. But he says we are focusing on them to the exclusion of all sorts of factors in everyday life that have a profound effect on health. Galea joined John McDonough and Paul Hattis for the latest installment of “Health or Consequences” on the Codcast, where he unspooled his take on how we’re missing the boat when it comes to promoting good health.

A native of Malta who trained as in emergency medicine in Canada, Galea described his migration from work as an acute care doctor to the field of public health. When treating patients on the frontlines of medicine, “you are sharply aware of what really shapes health,” he said. “What drives health is not so much the immediate experience, but a lifetime of experiences in the world around people and the context in which people live.”