WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A new report finds that Americans die younger and contract sexually transmitted diseases more than any other high-income country in the world.

The study – sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – found that the U.S. ranked last or near the bottom of key health areas despite spending more on health care per capita than any other nation.

“We were struck by the gravity of these findings,” Steven H. Woolf, professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and chair of the panel that wrote the report, said in a National Academies press release. “Americans are dying and suffering at rates that we know are unnecessary because people in other high-income countries are living longer lives and enjoying better health. What concerns our panel is why, for decades, we have been slipping behind.”

The report found that Americans had higher rates of chronic lung disease, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, drug-related deaths, infant mortality and homicides than countries that included Australia, Canada, Japan and many western European countries.

Researchers found that these health conditions are affecting more children and adolescents nowadays.

“It’s a tragedy. Our report found that an equally large, if not larger, disadvantage exists among younger Americans,” Woolf said in a statement. “I don’t think most parents know that, on average, infants, children, and adolescents in the U.S. die younger and have greater rates of illness and injury than youth in other countries.”

The report calls for a national outreach to reach the American public to warn them about the health disadvantage they face. Researchers say that these types of disadvantages are not just among the poor or uninsured, that it affects everyone.

“Research is important, but we should not wait for more data before taking action, because we already know what to do,” Woolf said. “If we fail to act, the disadvantage will continue to worsen and our children will face shorter lives and greater rates of illness than their peers in other rich nations.”