It’s now estimated as many as one in five people in this country will die from obesity-related disease. What’s significant about that number is that it’s three times higher than previous estimates. In an eye-opening new report, researchers studied men and women between the ages of 40 to 85 over a 20-year period. they found that obesity was likely responsible for about 18% of deaths during that time, one out of five americans. Obesity is going to increasingly shape the mortality levels in the united states as we move forward.
If you look at the heart and blood vessels of someone who’s already eating foods not good for them, not exercising the inside can sometimes be 40, 50 years higher than your chronological age. and that’s sobering. This leads to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis which are costly and preventable of all health problems in the U.S..
Four Common Causes of Chronic Disease
Four modifiable health risk behaviors—lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption—are responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases.
- More than one-third of all adults do not meet recommendations for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and 23% report no leisure-time physical activity at all in the preceding month.
- In 2007, less than 22% of high school students and only 24% of adults reported eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- More than 43 million American adults (approximately 1 in 5) smoke.
- In 2007, 20% of high school students in the United States were current cigarette smokers.
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes almost all cases. Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% in women. Smoking also causes cancer of the voicebox (larynx), mouth and throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
- Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to over 54 different diseases and injuries, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast, liver diseases, and other cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal health problems.
- Binge drinking, the most dangerous pattern of drinking (defined as consuming more than 4 drinks on an occasion for women or 5 drinks for men) is reported by 17% of U.S. adults, averaging 8 drinks per binge.
- More than 75 percent of health care expenditures are attributable to diseases that are largely preventable.
The Drug Industry Has To Take A Stand
The drug industry has been largely about selling Americans prescription drugs but the need to take the next step to also talk about prevention. This means that patient websites should be required to include content about chronic health conditions and their effect on quality of life. It can’t be a soft approach either. They have to show and tell how lack of exercise and eating fast food everyday can contribute to chronic health conditions.
It also means that insurers and the AMA need to come together to “scare patients into healthy living”. Imagine receiving a brochure from your doctor, after being told that you are overweight, that there is a good chance you won’t live to collect Social Security or that you could loose a limb or your eyesight because you are pre-diabetic.
In short we need the same approach to obesity that we took for smoking. I refuse to believe that we, as a nation, cannot tackle this health problem.