The Dollar Power of Disease Prevention

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Everyone remembers the battle over healthcare reform legislation - a struggle that continues today. While all of us may not agree on the specifics of each component of the plan, we do share the conviction that something must be done to decrease healthcare costs at every stage of life.

 

Obesity, which affects one-third of all children, and conditions related to obesity cost families and our country dearly. According to the Children's Defense Fund:

        Annual medical costs for a child diagnosed with obesity are on average three times higher than those for a child who is not overweight or obese.

        Nationwide, it is estimated that annual costs for prescription drugs, emergency room treatment and outpatient services related to childhood obesity total more than $14 billion, with an additional $238 million in inpatient hospital costs.

        If the childhood obesity trend continues, experts predict it could cut two to five years off the lifespan of the average child in America - making this the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than its parents. 

Sound health practices that help prevent disease must begin in early childhood, but even among children, it's very hard to change unhealthy behavior. The good news is that obesity can be prevented and that disease prevention is poised to assume greater urgency with the June release of The Public Health Institute's National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy. This blueprint for realigning the nation's healthcare system details the role that all sectors must play in containing costs and reducing disease. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin described this strategy as the "Americas Plan for Health and Wellness."

 

Many communities already have good health promotion programs in place, but now we must unite behind a master plan by connecting and collaborating. Granted, it can be challenging to change our mindset from disease treatment to disease prevention, but it's the only way we can reverse trends that are undermining our country's well being - including our health, economy and even national security.

 

Start by reading the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy. Use a wide net to identify and connect with all the health-related programs in your community. Focus on areas where you can have an impact. And be sure to put healthy eating and physical activity at the top of your list.

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About This Blog

I launched Nutrition Viewpoint to provide nutrition professionals, health care providers, and food and beverage marketers with a forum for examining issues, and trends that affect how we influence food and nutrition policies and how food and nutrition policies influence us. The thoughts and opinions I express in this blog are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my clients. Readers are invited to comment on my postings, and I hope that we can engage in a lively conversation. From time to time, Nutrition Viewpoint will also feature guest bloggers. Because of my keen interest in women's nutritional health, I have devoted a special section of this blog to women's issues.

  • Finn/Parks and Associates
  • Fleishman-Hillard
  • American Council for Fitness and Nutrition

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About Me

Susan Finn

I am a registered dietitian who has spent 30+ years as a nutrition communicator - interpreting the science of nutrition into practical applications for consumers, health professionals, and the food and beverage industry. I am a principal in the nutrition policy and positioning consultancy Finn/Parks & Associates. I currently serve as a senior advisor to Fleishman-Hillard International Communications and am also the CEO and president of the American Council for Fitness & Nutrition. I am a past president of The American Dietetic Association (ADA), the world's largest organization of nutrition experts, and am immediate past chair of the ADA Foundation. While I feel passionately about the importance of nutrition for people of all ages, I am particularly interested in women's nutritional health. Throughout my career, I have concentrated on women's unique nutritional needs and their critical role as gatekeepers for family health.

See Susan Finns complete bio.

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