Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Take Your Wellness Pills?

A friend recently explained to me that he didn’t need to worry about “wellness” because there are “pills to take for just about everything.” Well, he’s right—and very, very wrong.

CBS News reported on May 14, that Americans buy more medicine per person than any other country. And—more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems. That’s an eye-popping (pill-popping) statistic. The most widely used drugs are those to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol—problems often linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Numbers gathered by Medco Health Solutions Inc., show that last year 51 percent of American children and adults were taking one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group recently said the increased use of medications is partly because the most heavily advertised drugs are for chronic conditions, so most patients will take them for a long time.

Almost one-half of all Americans report having a chronic illness—and those illnesses account for 75 percent of our national spending on health care (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). Furthermore, almost 80 percent of all chronic disease is caused by three preventable health behaviors—physical inactivity, poor nutrition and overeating, and smoking.

According to the CBS report, Dr. Robert Epstein, chief medical officer at Medco, said “a lot of it is related to obesity. We’ve become a couch potato culture (and) it’s a lot easier to pop a pill” than to exercise regularly or diet.

It goes without saying that LoneStart is in the “wellness business,” but it should also go without saying that these are the exact issues we address. The “problem” is a pervasive one and it’s an insidious insight into how we are encouraged to work around it with a simple fix (pills) rather than address it with a sustainable solution (behavior change).

What do you think?

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