Wake up America: Obesity is lowering our life-expectancy for the first time in history

Last week, the World Health Organization and the Imperial College of London released an alarming study that despite spending the most per capita on healthcare, the the United States’ projected increase in life expectancy between 2010 and 2030 lags behind 31 other high-income countries. More alarmingly, By 2030, American life spans will be on par with Mexico and the  Czech Republic by 2030.

There’s one clear reason why life expectancy is going down: weight-related chronic diseases! 7 out of the top 10 killers in the US are chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are linked directly to poor lifestyle choices. For the first time since the 1990s, US life expectancy is decreasing.

By contrast, South Korean women will have a life expectancy of over 90 years by 2030. South Korea, a nation praised for “getting a lot of things right”, has the lowest obesity and hypertension rates — a stark contrast to the United States. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control, depicts how obesity is an underlying factor behind the chronic conditions crisis this nation is facing. He notes that the recent growth in heart disease, which accounts for 1 in 4 deaths, is one of many “ramifications of the increase in obesity.”

Last week, Dr. Shilpa Ravella, a gastroenterologist at Columbia University Medical Center, published an article in USA Today said, “Food choices are the most important cause of poor health in the United States.” Provided a disturbing 75% of America is defined as being overweight or obese, Dr. Frieden’s and Dr. Ravella’s insights are on point. Weight loss and diet changes interventions through nutritional counseling is an invaluable service key to catching up with fellow developed nations.  

Healthie was designed with chronic disease prevention and treatment in mind, knowing that a healthy lifestyle prevents up to 80% of all non-communicable diseases. Bringing dietitians and nutrition experts into the picture is an obvious and necessary step to avert the downward spiral of the US’s health. Professionals in the field have the capacity to properly educate the public and health professionals about nutrition. Plus, most notably, they can act as invaluable resources for individuals to prevent the onset of chronic conditions.

The magnitude of non-communicable disease conveys how the advanced medicine we pride ourselves on will not be adequate in getting the United States health status out of treading water. This trend of declining health outcomes echoes a country-wide plea for dietitians to step in and break undesirable trends.

 

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