Monday, April 27, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Chronic Disease and Health Care Reform

We know health care reform is high on the Obama administration agenda, and we hear a lot about ways to make coverage fair and affordable and how the stimulus bill with $19 billion in funding for health IT will update our outdated health system. We hear less about how we will change the way America addresses the leading cause of death and the major cause of rising health care costs—chronic disease—something almost all of us have the ability to do something about for ourselves, and therefore for all of us.

The health consequences of overweight, obesity and physical inactivity present challenges to all individuals and organizations by increasing overall health care costs and by making health coverage less affordable. This is particularly evident when we calculate the impact of obesity on the direct and indirect costs of mostly preventable and expensive to treat chronic conditions.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths and 75 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in the United States each year. More than 130 million Americans today have a chronic disease, many of which could either be effectively prevented or minimized by making better nutritional choices, becoming more physically active and smoking cessation. In the last 30 years, as a percent of Gross national Product (GPD), health care spending has doubled, from 8 percent to 16 percent. Health care spending is now 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.

If we don’t first tackle the true cost driver in the system, chronic disease, we won’t get very far in alleviating health care costs.

The good news is that we find most of us will make the modest-but-meaningful changes in our vital wellness behaviors that can significantly reduce our risk for preventable chronic disease—so long as we believe we have a realistic expectation of success.

Wellness is not an option if we are to effectively reduce health care costs. Agree? Disagree? Ready to act?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LoneStart, Social Networking, and Yes, Now Facebook – and Twitter

As we promote our message and wellness strategy, we continue to make new connections. We now have a business page on Facebook and a presence on Twitter, and invite you to interact and show your support for LoneStart Wellness by becoming a “fan” on our business page, and “follow us” on Twitter. We also have a “Find us on Facebook” link on our home page. (It’s embarrassing not to have fans or followers, so please add your name!)

The feedback we get from client organizations is that our strategy is a positive “nuts and bolts” approach, is turnkey, inexpensive and wasn’t a burden to administer. Our 63-Day Team Esteem Challenge has had the positive, though unintended benefit of creating a rare teambuilding opportunity for rank and file employees. These are benefits that go beyond the initial goal of wellness, yet address employee satisfaction and retention. This is part of the social impact and sustainability we strive to achieve. Are Facebook and Twitter the social networking tools that will make this happen? Probably not, but perhaps they will prove to be effective links. We invite your feedback.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When It Comes to Eating . . . Are You Average?

In our last post we talked about “mindful eating.” With that in mind, consider what the “Average American” eats. I was a little surprised myself. Maybe these stats will make us all a bit more mindful of what and how we eat.

The average American eats about 1,800 pounds of food per year, or about five pounds per day.

The average American eats:

  • 64 pounds of beef per year
  • 57 pounds of chicken per year (about 27 chickens)
  • 50 pounds of pork per year
  • 14 pounds of turkey per year
  • 236 eggs per year
  • 200 sandwiches per year
  • 60 hot dogs per year
  • Refined white sugar – 100 pounds
  • Fats & Oils – 55 pounds
  • Soda – 300 cans/bottles
  • Chewing Gum – 200 sticks
  • Ice Cream – 80 quarts
  • Candy – 18 pounds
  • Potato Chips – 5 pounds
  • Other Snack Chips – 2 pounds
  • Doughnuts – 63 Dozen
  • Cookies & Cakes – 70 Pounds

The average American eats fast food seventy-two times a year, drinks 9 and a half pounds of coffee per year and eats about 35,000 cookies in their lifetime.

Now, here’s the thing about "averages." My favorite example: “If you stand with one foot frozen in a block of ice and the other foot submerged in a bucket of boiling water, (although why you would, I don’t know) on average your feet are quite comfortable.”

How do you measure up as an Average American? See anything on the list you might want to change? It is “food for thought.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mindful Eating

Mindfulness: the process of becoming aware of and attentive to the present moment. What does this have to do with wellness, weight loss, and good nutritional choices? Consider “mindful eating.”

Like mindfulness in general, mindful eating means becoming aware of the sensations of eating—in the present moment. The popularity of fast food, pre-packaged and pre-prepared foods, and drive-thoughs all point out that most of us are not very mindful when we eat of what we eat.

So how do you practice mindful eating? Ask yourself these questions—before you take the first bite. How does your body feel before you even put the food on your plate? Are you really hungry? Are you tired, in a hurry, nervous, depressed, happy or sad? Next, as you get ready to eat, engage your senses in appreciating your meal—how it looks, how it smells, and how it tastes and how it feels in your mouth. Finally, ask yourself how you feel after you’ve eaten the food. It seems like a lot of thinking just to eat a meal, but try it. You’ll probably find you eat slower and eat less, and appreciate what you just put in your body.

Conversely, you’ll probably find that one of the advantages of mindful eating (especially when you’re getting ready to eat something like a greasy piece of pizza to go) is that you might find you don’t actually want to eat it. So, don’t.

Try mindful eating. You might surprise yourself by how much more satisfying and pleasurable food—the choices and amount—can be. And let us know what you think.