Seven of the top 10 causes of death in the United States are due to chronic illnesses, two of which, heart disease and cancer, account for nearly half of all deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that in 2012, about 50% of American adults (117 million people) were burdened with one or more chronic health conditions (1).
Many chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers are largely fueled by the obesity epidemic. According to recent data, approximately 35% of U.S. adults are obese, and over two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese (2). Peer reviewed medical studies indicate that by amending lifestyle factors including diet, physical activity, cigarette smoking, and body weight, we could prevent nearly 80% of chronic diseases that gravely compromise our quality of life (3).
Total health care costs in the U.S. were 2.9 trillion dollars in 2013 (2), with 86% of these dollars utilized to manage chronic illness (4). In 2016, despite extraordinary advances in diagnostics, as well as surgical and pharmaceutical interventions, we continue to witness increasing rates of some chronic diseases. How do we change this paradigm?