This month the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the nation's new 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention called Healthy People 2020. I'm not sure if you are familiar with it, but what it does is provides a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions, and aims to improve both the quantity and quality of life for all Americans. The reason I'm blogging about Healthy People 2020 is because most of the goals target preventable diseases, which means too many people are not reaching their full potential for health. Looking back at Healthy People 2010 objectives for reducing obesity, data shows that not one state met the health objective of 15% and 30 states were 10% or more percentage points away from the objective. Obesity continues to be a significant public health problem even though it is preventable.
Nutritional and dietary factors play a significant role in the etiology of preventable diseases such as obesity, some cancers, coronary heart disease (CHD) and diabetes. These preventable health conditions are costing you, your neighbor and our nation with over $200 billion dollars each year in medical expenses and lost productivity. Not only does it cost us billions of dollars, it costs lives. Chronic diseases, such as CHD, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for 7 out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year accounting for 75% of the nation’s health spending.
Now you see why I wanted to address this issue, because creating awareness plants the seed for change. Disease prevention should be one of the main reasons why you want (or continue) to be healthy. Remember, disease doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just wake up and poof there it is. Health is dictated by our genetic AND environmental factors. Dietary and nutritional factors play a HUGE role in gene expression. Nutrigenomics is a whole different and loaded topic, and maybe I’ll follow up on that next time….but for now, I’ll just end with a famous saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” It is pretty much relevant for all areas of life. It’s never too late, so start thinking about your nutritional and physical goals for this New Year, and think of the big picture of how you are contributing to society by being a healthier person.