50% of Americans Have a Chronic Disease: CDC Reveals the Cost of Unhealthy Living

CDC: 50% of Americans have a chronic disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have concluded chronic diseases and conditions are among the most common, and preventable, of all health problems. As of 2012, these diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis affect about half of all adults living in the United States. It gets worse. A quarter of adults in the US have two or more of these chronic diseases. Obesity affects more than 33% of American adults, and 20% of American adolescents. Arthritis is the most common cause for disability, and diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. These statistics are staggering, especially since there are many ways to prevent them from happening.

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)

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4 Responses to 50% of Americans Have a Chronic Disease: CDC Reveals the Cost of Unhealthy Living

  1. Rivkah says:

    I am sorry a photo of an obese person was chosen to head this article. Yes, obesity is a serious health issue in America, but the pic is disrespectful to the person shown. Imagine what it took for him to leave his home and go to this event or whatever it is he is attending? A pic does not need to be shown to get the point across. And no, I am not obese.

  2. hamchan says:

    These diseases are not always preventable, and frankly I get sort of tired of that assumption being thrown around. Many of my family members who live with, or have died from, these types of diseases were never overweight or sedentary. At least not until they were debilitated by disease. My husband is diabetic with kidney disease and he is not overweight. He goes to the gym 6 days a week and carefully monitors everything he eats. There may be a somewhat higher correlation between obesity and certain diseases, but it’s not nearly as high as the headlines suggest, not is it always preventable.

  3. That photo was chosen by me — since obesity is one of the leading preventable chronic diseases, it was appropriate. Just as if I had featured a smoker, it would have been appropriate. The person’t face is not shown (on purpose).

  4. Jo says:

    The diseases we are faced with comprise of several factors (causes). Obesity, smoking, genetics, environmental/stress and diet. Genetics and environmental are the two we don’t have much control over, although there can be some modicum of control with environmental causes.

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