Friday, August 5, 2011
I’m sure many of you share my tendency to talk back to the radio and television, especially when they are insulting your intelligence or your favorite team is losing. So when I see the health update coming on the TV news, I usually call out, “Eat your veggies,” because the advice is usually at that level of common sense (but presented as news). Most of the good health advice, packaged and repackaged can be summarized as:
· Eat a proper diet with vegetables and grains,
· Avoid soda and junk food,
· Exercise/stay active,
· Get enough sleep,
· Don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess,
· Drink enough water, especially in hot weather or when exercising,
· Have a positive, supportive social life.
Of course they think we need to hear it over and over, because we don’t do it. These are discipline issues and we can come up with a thousand excuses instead of taking responsibility. But now there is more.
From a conference just ended in Paris, comes another motivator. A presentation of a very large study noted that the biggest modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease in the US are physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education and diabetes, which are associated with up to 54% of cases. Association does not necessarily mean cause and effect, but this association with lifestyle habits is an encouraging sign, given that Alzheimer’s is the second most feared disease in the US (behind cancer) with no known cure. These are substantially the same factors we hear about every day to address a myriad of other medical issues, so Alzheimer’s prevention for some may not involve anything new.
Alzheimer’s represents both a personal wellness issue and a societal financial scare about the future of Medicare – how to address the increase in costs as the Baby Boomers age. The answer to both sides of the problem could be behavioral.