As mentioned yesterday, the national health report card has just been released by the NIH. My fellow Americans, we did not make the honor roll. We are not number one. (Though there’s a roll, all right.)
Here’s how America scored in some major subjects:
Heart disease: 685,000 deaths (down about 10% from 1980)
Cancer/tumors: 556,000 deaths (up about 35% from 1980)
Diabetes: 74,000 deaths (triple the 1980 rate)
Things that killed people in 1980 – like cirrhosis, accidents and the flu, are way down. But preventable diseases like diabetes, some types of cancer, heart disease and cardiovascular conditions are way up.
– Obesity is up – a lot. In the 1960s, that rate was about 44%; it’s now over 66%. Click here for the kid stats.
– You might be surprised: heart disease killed more women last year than men. Take care of those arteries, ladies!
– Also worth considering: the millions of deaths, bad reactions and side effects of drugs used to treat all these conditions. Can’t we do better?
What all this means:
It’s tempting to feel a little pessimistic, but a lot of this news is actually good. That’s right, good!
We don’t have to worry too much about clean water or adequate food or – even with the big mess health care is in right now – access to a doctor. There’s a lot to fix in this country, but the good news is that we’re blessed with a lot of options and advantages.
Most of the diseases and health issues facing Americans are things that are preventable with a few basic lifestyle changes: things like eating less, cutting out sugar, eating more vegetables every day, quitting smoking, getting exercise, taking supplements that limit free radical damage, and avoiding stress.
While these things are challenges and there are a lot of choices to weigh, the important thing is that we have choice. That, in itself, is a blessing.
So, choose to be healthy! Health, to the extent you can control it, is nothing more than good choices (because you can’t help genetics or luck). So always be making a better one.