No longer is there any doubt that obesity and chronic diseases
account for a large share, if not most, of the health problems and rising cost of health care in America today. And, it is encouraging to see an increasing emphasis upon health promotion and prevention
. Although there continues to be too much reliance upon treatment, there is recognition of the greater potential with prevention.
Multiple factors contribute to the causes of chronic diseases and there are various routes for intervention to alleviate the disease process. Identifying the specific causes will lead to specific interventions for prevention and treatment. However, there are basic components of a healthy lifestyle that apply generally to optimum health status and prevention of many chronic diseases.
Getting everyone to avoid tobacco, toxic chemicals and unecessary drugs; be physically active; eat healthy food; avoid unhealthy food; get adequate sleep; manage stress and maintain a healthy weight is by far the most significant challenge facing health care today. This is an issue of life and living that goes beyond the somewhat more narrow focus and current understanding of lifestyle and medical care.
The August 28th issue of Time Magazine described a "national culture of unpreparedness"
. They were referring to floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes. Not only do people ignore preparation for these disasters, they place themselves in harms way by building and living where they should not and by lifestyle habits that are known to be hazardous to health. If the hugh problem of poor maintenance and lack of maintaining the infrastructure of society is another related aspect of this complex, then society, civilization and humans are in deep trouble.
"There are four stages of denial. One, it won't happen. Two, if it does happen, it won't happen to me. Three, if it does happen to me, it won't be that bad. Four, if it does happen to me and it's bad, there is nothing I can do to stop it anyway." (Eric Holdeman, director of emergy management for King County, Seattle, Washington) In addition to denial, what about the prevailing attitudes that it is someone else's problem, the government will cover the losses, medicine will find cures and sue the bastards?
Healthy lifestyle is a good beginning because it originates in the mind, creates positive attitudes, builds upon self-reliance and depends upon interaction between the individual and the community. Time Magazine referred to "trickle down apathy".
The answer to that is not false optimism but building resilience and capacity, person by person. Those are the products of education and maintaining optimum health status.
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