Many adults in the US admit to bad habits which lead to these chronic diseases. Not getting enough aerobic exercise or physical activity was common in over half of adults surveyed. The fruits and veggies your mom always told you to eat were reported to be consumed less than once a day in 30% of adults. Consuming too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, and is eaten in large quantities by 90% of Americans. About half of American adults also have at least one of the following: uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled high LDL cholesterol, or are current smokers. All of these are a major risk factors for heart disease or increased chance of a stroke.
Smoking is also linked to more than 480,000 deaths a year, yet smoking is a daily occurrence for more than 42 million adults. Not only is it common in adults, but more than 3,200 children under the age of 18 smoke for the first time every day, and 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers as well.
Smoking isn’t entirely to blame for these deaths, as more than 88,000 deaths a year are caused by drinking too much alcohol. Binge drinking, the leading cause of these alcohol-related deaths, is common for the average American adult at least four times a month, with about 8 drinks per binge.
These highly preventable diseases not only cost lives, but there is a financial cost of billions in spending:
- 84% of health care spending was for the 50% of the population with chronic diseases. That results in over $1.8 trillion spent for mostly preventable diseases (2006)
- Heart disease cost an estimated $315.4 billion, and $193.4 billion of that was used only for direct medical costs (2010)
- Cancer weighed in at $157 billion a year (2010)
- The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $245 billion, with $176 billion in direct medical costs (2012)
- Nearly $81 billion was spent for direct medical cost for arthritis, where $128 was spent in total (2003)
- Obesity’s medical costs were estimated to be $147 billion (2008)
- $289 billion a year is the economic cost due to smoking (2008)
- $223.5 billion of economic costs comes from excessive drinking (2006)
Unhealthy living is both costly to your wallet and your life.
(Photo courtesy of Tony Alter)