According to the CDC 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. 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths each year. Instead of selling quick fixes via medication should the FDA require that all drug.com websites include content on prevention and staying healthy ?
The Integrated Benefits Institute, which represents major U.S. employers and business coalitions, says poor health costs the U.S. economy $576 billion a year, according to research. Of that amount, 39 percent, or $227 billion is from “lost productivity” from employee absenteeism due to illness or what researchers called “presenteeism,” when employees report to work but illness keeps them from performing at their best. Here’s a link to their report and statement.
A study, from Duke University, suggests that by 2030, about 42% of Americans will be obese, which is up from about 36% presently. This rise means that about 32 million people could be clinically obese in the next 18 years. Other obesity estimates for the future have been even more disheartening, but the new research takes into account that rates have slowed down. Those who are severely obese (who carry around an extra 80 pounds) are expected to rise from 5% to 11%.
The upside of the story is that obesity and overweight are preventable phenomena, and so are the myriad heath problems associated with them. The startling $550 billion dollar estimate is a projection that could be counteracted if we take action. “Another way to think about that number,” said study author and health economist Eric Finkelstein, “is if we could keep obesity rates flat or if they were flattening, we would save $550 billion.” Even small reductions in obesity prevalence “could result in substantial savings,” wrote the authors.
So with all the talk around healthcare costs one has to wonder why the FDA has not required that healthcare marketers conduct more disease state education and prevention ? Do we really understand, for example, how we can control high cholesterol without statins ? Do physicians advise patients how to loose weight and the health implications of becoming pre-diabetic ?
It’s time to sell more than just a treatment; it’s time to inform and educate Americans about the potential damage to quality of life if they don’t take care of themselves in terms they can understand.