Americans are less healthy today than four years ago.
That is the astonishing conclusion of a report
of 23 measures of America's health done by the huge health insurer United Health Group. The leading problems are the number of uninsured, the exploding obesity epidemic, and the 20 percent who still smoke.
What part of preventive medicine do we not yet understand?
"An investment of $10 per person per year in programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking would cut national healthcare costs by $16 billion annually within five years, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That is a return of $5.60 for each dollar spent." That quote is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune article
, which captures the problem nicely.
Click through these CDC obesity maps
to watch the obesity epidemic explode over the past 28 years. (I am talking about obesity, not overweight.) Then consider that obesity causes 90 percent of all type-2 diabetes, 20+ percent of cancers of the breast and colon, that obese teenagers have the arteries of 40- or even 50- year-olds. Then remember that 90 percent of all lung cancers and maybe 50 percent of oral cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. Think about the fact that Americans spend more on health care than any other nation, but rank only about 50th in life expectancy.
Ouch. We can, and indeed must, do better.