The leading causes of death in the United States include heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents and diabetes. Millions of Americans are dying because of disease, and the following statistics illustrate that fact:
- Chronic diseases account for seven of every ten American deaths.
- 60 percent of medical expenditures result from chronic diseases.
- Millions of Americans have a decreased quality of life because of illness and disability resulting from chronic diseases.
However, many of these problems could have been prevented through living healthy lifestyles. People who fail to exercise regularly and eat properly have a higher risk of developing obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Additionally, “the prolonged illness and disability associated with many chronic diseases decrease the quality of life for millions of Americans.” The statistics are clear, but many Americans are not making the choices that will lead to longer, healthier lives.
Not only is it important for adults to make healthy lifestyle choices but it is also imperative that children develop positive habits. Youth should develop healthy lifestyles early so they will have improved cardiovascular health as adults. The American Heart Association recommends that children participate in regular physical activity, eat a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet after the age of two, maintain appropriate weight according to height, be encouraged not to smoke, and receive regular pediatric medical checkups.
We can no longer afford to make poor health choices such as being physically inactive and eating an unhealthy diet; these choices have led to a tremendous obesity epidemic. As a community, we must embrace small steps toward that will help Americans live longer, better, healthier lives.”