Healthy lifestyles can go a long way toward solving today’s healthcare crisis. These facts and figures give some clues as to where we can make some changes to prevent disease and cut healthcare costs.
One Dollar Saves Three
The federal government doesn’t keep track of statistics on how wellness programs can impact healthcare costs but some businesses have found that promoting wellness reaps handsome rewards. According to the Wellness Councils of America, a non-profit group that promotes healthy lifestyles, companies can save three dollars on healthcare expenses for every dollar they spend on wellness programs that teach employees to lead healthier lives.
Source: Wellness Councils of America
Lifestyle Could Reduce Diabetes by 87 Percent
The combination of losing weight, moving more, cutting out trans-fats, saturated fats and excessive alcohol, and eating more fiber could reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by a staggering 87 percent. A modest 5-percent weight loss can lower risk significantly. The incidence of type 2 diabetes increased by 60 percent in the United States between 1990 and 2001. Treatment for diabetes and its complications consumes 10 percent of America’s healthcare dollars.
Sources: British Journal of Nutrition and American Diabetes Association
The Aerobic Cure
Aerobic exercise alone cured metabolic syndrome (sometimes called syndrome X) in 30 percent of people in the HERITAGE Family Study in Canada. The syndrome is a combination of elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol and high waist circumference that significantly raises the risks of diabetes and heart disease. People in the study rode a stationary bike three times per week for twenty weeks.
Source: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
The Obesity-Cancer Link
Researchers have found 37 percent more cancer among obese women and 25 percent more among obese men, compared to people of healthy weight. Death rates for all cancers are 62 percent higher among obese women and 52 percent higher among obese men. Among obese women, risks for specific cancers increase as follows: breast 150 percent; uterine 200 to 400 percent; kidney 200 to 400 percent; pancreatic 200 percent; and colon 46 percent.
Source: Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource
Weight Gain Explained
Americans’ per capita daily calorie consumption increased by roughly 300 calories per person between 1985 and 2000. Grains (mainly refined grains) accounted for 46 percent of the increase, added fats for 24 percent, added sugars for 23 percent, and fruits and vegetables for 8 percent, while meat and dairy consumption declined by 1 percent.
Source: American Heart Association
Multivitamins Could Cut Medicare Costs
Medicare could save at least 1.6 billion dollars in the next five years by providing multivitamins to people over the age of 65. Cost savings would result primarily from fewer admissions to hospitals and nursing homes as a result of heart disease and infections such as pneumonia.
Source: Multivitamins and Public Health: Exploring the Evidence Conference
Calcium and Folic Acid Could Save 15 Billion Dollars
A study commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance shows that the use of daily calcium supplements could prevent 734,000 hip fractures annually, saving 13.9 billion dollars in healthcare costs. Daily use of folic acid supplements could prevent 600 cases of neural tube birth defects, saving an additional 1.3 billion dollars. Foods fortified with calcium or folic acid offer an alternative to supplement pills.