70% of annual deaths in the US are caused by chronic diseases; these preventable conditions are also the leading cause of disability, and they’re everywhere.
The facts are pretty startling: 6 in 10 adults have a chronic disease and we now know that the economic burden of these amounts to more than $1 trillion annually. Let that sink in—our country is spending more than $1 trillion every single year on diseases that could be prevented through the right lifestyle choices.
Heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer are just some of the many diseases we know can be prevented and treated using interventions like good nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and high-quality sleep.
Not only would public health benefit from a focus on prevention of chronic disease using these tools, but the economy would hugely benefit as well. For example, the Milken Institute estimates that with the right efforts we could avoid 40 million cases of chronic disease by 2023 and reduce the economic burden by 27%. Looking at obesity alone, declining rates could save the country $60 billion in treatment costs.
Obviously, the cost of health is MUCH greater than anything with a dollar sign in front of it. Our ability to show up in the world, feel energized and happy, and enjoy this precious life is what health is really all about. Taking simple, proactive steps like eating a nutrient-dense diet and moving your body daily are incredible tools that can help us all find our own version of optimal health.
If you missed last week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan joined me to discuss the economic impact of our chronic disease epidemic, the state of our country’s food system, and how we can join together to make a positive change in the policies that impact our health.
Tim Ryan recently announced he’ll be running for president in the 2020 election. This means we have a chance to get this conversation—one revolving around food policy, public health, regenerative agriculture, the educational system, and the environment—on the national platform for discussion.
No matter your political affiliation, I urge you to listen to this episode so we can begin to make these issues a national discussion.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD