Preventing Disease, Saving Billions of Dollars

In the New York Times this week, Mark Bittman highlights the magnitude of our chronic disease burden and the potential for prevention to save our future federal budget billions of dollars (see story).  A small change in diet to reduce heart disease by 10% would save 100 billion dollars. And this is all easy to achieve. Many suggestions are out there and Bittman provides a nice summary of some of the current leading strategies.
In a related new study form the American Cancer Society, McCullough and colleagues report on the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle – in accordance with ACS recommendations (see report).  Focusing on non-smokers since they account for the vast majority of the US population, McCullough followed over 110,000 men and women for 14 years. Some 10,000 men Andover 6500 women died during follow-up. Those who followed ACS cancer prevention guidelines at the beginning of the study: health weight throughout life, limiting alcohol consumption, adequate physical activity, and healthy diet, had 50% reduction in death from cardiovascular disease and 30 percent reduction in death from cancer. So being in the normal weight range (BMI less than 25), being active at the level of one hour per day for at least 5 days per week, drinking no more than one drink per day (for women) or two drinks per day (for men), and eating a healthy diet including higher intake of whole grants and limiting red meat intake gave the greatest benefit.
Following healthy lifestyle will save us billions in health care costs as our population ages and the burden of chronic diseases increases. Its time for everyone to eat well and keep moving! 

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