David Katz, M.D.Director, Yale Prevention Research Center, Writes Important Article on Prevention
This article first appeared on 11/18/2013 in The Huffington Post:
Collusion might reasonably be defined as meeting the enemy and discovering it is both them and us. In the case of health — personal well-being and public health alike — exactly this sort of thing is going on. It is way past time to take the way past these toxic impasses.
Let’s start with public health, and then get more personal. The leading public health problems of our time are obesity and related chronic diseases. This is well studied and thoroughly established. As bad as the current situation is, with chronic diseases imposing an enormous burden in both human and economic terms, things are projected to get far worse. Chronic diseases are proliferating around the globe, affecting ever more people here in the U.S. and taking hold at ever younger ages. We are losing an enormous number of years from our lives and an all but incalculable amount of life from our years.
What makes this truly tragic is that it is almost entirely preventable. We have known exactly what it takes to reduce the aggregate burden of chronic disease by fully 80 percent for literal decades. The relevant research is noteworthy for its power, clarity, consistency, and lack of controversy. Instead of staring down the barrel of a figurative gun at a future in which one in three of us is diabetic, we could readily be looking at a future in which 90 percent of all diabetes is eliminated outright. There are few forks in the road of life as flagrant as that.
But since we have known for decades that better use of our feet (physical activity), forks (dietary pattern), and fingers (not holding cigarettes) could transform public health, and have done relatively little with the information — at least with regard to diet and physical activity — we are squandering an incredible opportunity.