But why is this article so important? Because as Americans continue to spend billions of dollars on prescription medication, chronic disease is still on the rise. Many of these chronic diseases are those that are directly related to weight and can be prevented. According to the National Coalition on Healthcare, national health spending is expected to reach $2.5 trillion in 2009, accounting for a little more than 17 %of the gross domestic product (GDP). And studies from the National Institute of Health (NIH) show that Obesity costs the American healthcare system close to $100 million annually with Diabetes costs at $150 billion and heart disease costing $300 billion annually.
Regardless of which side of the fence we sit, most Americans recognize that healthcare in this country does require some sort of a reform; the differences lie in how it should be executed. But amidst all of the clamor and chaos, one glaring piece of information is not really being discussed: PREVENTION. Last month, based on a recent study published in the mid-August issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, it was revealed that lifestyle choices play a very large role in the prevention of chronic diseases. The study followed 23,153 Germans from ages 35 – 65 over an 8 year time period. What it found was that those who adopted a healthier lifestyle reduced their chances of developing these diseases significantly, 80% overall. By maintaining 4 main healthy factors: no smoking, maintaining a healthy weight (BMI less than 30%), exercising 3.5 hours/week or more, and adhering to healthy dietary principles such as eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grain and red meats sparingly, participants lowered their risks of developing the following chronic diseases:
- Cancers - 36%
- Stroke – 50%
- Cardiovascular Disease – 81% and
- Diabetes – 93%.