Chronic Disease Prevention

Chronic Disease Prevention

Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s health care costs. This is the reason why we are having issues with funding a health-care system in this country.

So, How do we change these staggering statistics ?

Why do our health-care costs continue to rise ?

What are YOU going to do to change these statistics in your favor ?

Let’s Identify Common Risk Factors

Much of the chronic disease burden is attributable to a short list of key risk factors; most US adults have more than one of these risk factors:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Obesity (high body mass index).
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Excessive alcohol AND drug use.
  • Diets low in fruits and vegetables.
  • Diets high in sodium and saturated fats. (processed foods)

One in four Americans has multiple chronic conditions, those that last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention or that limit activities of daily living. That number rises to three in four Americans aged 65 and older.

As a person’s number of chronic conditions increases, his or her risk for dying prematurely, being hospitalized, and even receiving conflicting advice from health care providers increases. People with multiple chronic conditions also are at greater risk of poor day-to-day functioning.

Having multiple chronic conditions is also associated with substantial health care costs. Approximately 71% of the total health care spending in the United States is associated with care for the Americans with more than one chronic condition. Among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, people with multiple chronic conditions account for 93% of total Medicare spending. People with multiple chronic conditions face substantial out-of-pocket costs of their care, including higher costs for prescription drugs.

A CHANGE IS NEEDED

Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases 

The World Health Organization met to examine the science base of the relationship between diet and physical activity patterns, and the major nutrition-related chronic diseases.

Recommendations were made to help prevent death and disability from major nutrition-related chronic diseases. These population nutrient intake and physical activity goals should contribute in the development of regional strategies and national guidelines to reduce the burden of disease related to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, several forms of cancer, osteoporosis and dental disease. They are based on the examination and analysis of the best available evidence and the collective judgment of a group of experts representing the global scope of the World Health Organization

Their Key findings include:

Obesity: the imbalance between declining energy expenditure due to physical inactivity and high energy in the diet (excess calories whether from sugar, starches or fat) is the main determinant of the obesity epidemic. Increasing physical activity, plus reducing intakes of foods high in fat and foods and drinks high in sugars, can prevent unhealthy weight gain. Taking these simple goals to concrete action requires major social and environmental changes in order to effectively promote and support healthier choices at the individual level.

Diabetes: excess weight gain, overweight and obesity and physical inactivity account for the escalating rates of type 2 diabetes, worldwide. Diabetes leads to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and infections. Increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight play critical roles in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Cardiovascular diseases: cardiovascular diseases, the major killers worldwide, are to a great extent due to unbalanced diets and physical inactivity. Risk of their main forms, heart disease and stroke, is reduced by eating less saturated and trans fats, and sufficient amounts of (n-3 and n-6) polyunsaturated fats, fruits and vegetables and less salt, as well as by physical activity and controlling weight. Reduction of salt intake helps reduce blood pressure, a major cause of cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer: tobacco is the number one cause of cancer, but dietary factors contribute significantly to some types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the risk for cancers of the esophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Limiting alcohol intake will reduce risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and breast. Ensuring an adequate intake of fruit and vegetables should further reduce risk for oral cavity, esophagus, stomach and colorectal cancer.

Osteoporosis and bone fractures: fragility fractures are a problem of older people. Adequate intakes of calcium (500 mg per day or more) and of vitamin D in populations with high osteoporosis rates helps to reduce fracture risk, so does sun exposure and physical activity to strengthen bones and muscles.

Now what can YOU do to change these factors ?

Exercise:

The crucial role of physical activity as part of nutrition and health was acknowledged. Physical activity is a key determinant of energy expenditure, and thus fundamental to energy balance and weight control. The beneficial effects of physical activity on the metabolic syndrome are mediated by mechanisms beyond controlling excess body weight.

Diets:

Healthy diets and physical activity are key to good nutrition and necessary for a long and healthy life. Eating nutrient dense foods and balancing energy intake with the necessary physical activity to maintain a healthy weight is essential at all stages of life. Unbalanced consumption of foods high in energy (sugar, starch and/or fat) and low in essential nutrients contributes to energy excess, overweight and obesity. Think processed foods and fast foods.  These should be eliminated from your diet.

The amount of the energy consumed in relation to physical activity and the quality of food are key determinants of nutrition related chronic disease.

Not all fats are the same; it pays to know the difference. The scientific complexities of these issues should not obscure the simple messages required to orient and guide consumers. People should eat less high-calorie foods, especially foods high in saturated or trans fats and sugar, be physically active, prefer unsaturated fat and use less salt; enjoy fruits, vegetables and legumes; and select foods of plant and marine origin. This consumption pattern is not only healthier but also more favorable to the environment and sustainable development.

Conclusions:

Beyond simple rhetoric, this epidemic can be halted – the demand for action must come from those affected and those that are living an unhealthy lifestyle.  The solution is in our hands. Your hands.  Sometimes we look for others to solve our problems and put the blame where it does not belong.

We blame the Government for not in-acting safeguards or giving us health-care or legislating healthy life choices.

We blame the doctors for treating symptoms not disease.

We blame the food industry for providing easy fast foods and processed foods filled with sugar and fats.

Let’s stop blaming others. It is time to to take control of our life and help those around us to help take control of their own life. Be a role model to those around you. Show them by doing not telling.

Let us be honest with ourselves. Nobody forces us to stick that double bacon cheeseburger in our mouth, complete with the large fries and 32-ounce high fructose corn syrup laced soft drink.

And then ask ourselves –

Why I can’t lose weight, Why I have no energy, Why I am obese, Why can’t I climb stairs anymore, Why I can’t play with my children or grand children, Why do I have ( insert chronic illness ) ???    Why ???

Solution:

All you have to do is take control of your life.

Your diet and your exercise plan and quit making excuses for yourself.

It is ALL up to you.

You get the credit or the blame for your life choices.

Thought for the Week:

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ Francis of Assisi