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Chronic Disease is Bankrupting America

Yes it sounds extreme, but it could be our reality. If healthcare spending continues to increase at its current rate, It is estimated that by the year 2040 that 100% of the federal budget will go towards Medicare and Medicaid. That's 100% - meaning no money for anything else.

According to the latest CDC report, 1 in 2 American adults have a chronic disease and 1 in 4 have multiple chronic diseases. Roughly 40% of adults and 20% of adolescents are obese. 30% of children have a chronic disease, up from 13% in 1994. These numbers represent a massive burden to not only to our healthcare system, but our country.

We know that 100 million Americans are prediabetic or have Type 2 diabetes. That's 1/3 of the population. And 88% of people who are prediabetic don't know they are. Now consider the average cost of treating an individual with Type 2 diabetes is $14,000. When you do the math the numbers are staggering beyond belief - and it's only for diabetes!

There is no sustainable way to pay for the rising costs associated with the treatment of chronic disease. It's a major issue that needs to come to forefront of serious conversation with the realization of the personal responsibility we all need to assume in the prevention of these diseases.

Yes they are preventable and no the reason is not just your genetics. 85% of disease risk comes from behavioral and environmental factors while only 15% is related to genetic factors. Meaning the vast majority of chronic disease risk factors are under our control and there needs to be an emphasis on this point.

The solution must have a primary focus on prevention and reversal of disease rather than merely suppressing symptoms. We need to take control of our behaviors as they relate to our lifestyle choices. Choices such as getting adequate physical activity/exercise, nutrition, sleep, and stress management become the real medicine because they have THE biggest impact on our health. And there needs to be more personal responsibility assumed in these areas.

If you won't do it for yourself, do it for America.

For more related reading:

Obesity in America

Obesity is a problem. It's a real problem.

Today, 34% of the US adult population is obese and roughly 18% of US youth aged 2-19 years are obese. It is well established that children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults, putting them more at risk for health problems such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, asthma, and osteoarthritis. The burden of obesity on the healthcare system is tremendous as billions of dollars are spent annually on prescription drug, emergency room and outpatient visit healthcare costs.

The Framingham study has demonstrated data that obesity rates have gone up 2% per  year and they project that by the year 2050, 42% of the US population could be obese. And that’s the best-case scenario.

Possible Theories for Climbing Obesity Rates
There are several theories that attempt to explain obesity and it's rise to "epidemic" status. Theories can range from obesity being the result of food purposefully manufactured to be addictive, to nutrient imbalances, to environmental, psychological, and genetic factors to name a few.

There has even been research done to investigate whether obesity is “contagious” or something that we can “catch”, similar to the flu or other infectious diseases. This research was centered on studies that have demonstrated those who have social connections to obese individuals are more likely to be obese themselves.

The reality is the cause of obesity is multi-factorial and there are likely many reasons for obesity with very individual considerations. While there are many factors that will raise one’s risk for obesity, it’s important to recognize one key factor in the prevention of obesity - the body is programmed to regulate body weight.

So how can Americans - who continue to get fat even with the increased prevalence of dieting – regain control over body weight regulation?

Get Moving!
Low energy expenditure and sedentary lifestyles are the cause of body weight dysregulation. Meaning, lack of exercise or low energy expenditure is the MAJOR limiting factor in the ability to properly control body weight.
Yes, nutrition makes a difference but we see athletes who eat poorly all the time without becoming obese. Why?

Their high activity level keeps body weight regulation tighter. Nutrition is important for energy balance and is responsible for physical change. However, no amount of calorie control will help until the genetic switch is turned “on” by appropriate levels of physical activity.
But who has time for all that exercise, right?

The most recent National Human Activity Pattern Survey and American Time Use Survey have found people watch, on average, 30-35 hours of TV per week or almost 5 hours a day! This is a drastic increase from 2007, as these surveys reported American’s watched 19.5-21 hours of TV per week or almost 3 hours a day on average.

Most Americans move too little! Period.

Put a Plan into Action
Here are some steps and strategies you can use to better regulate your bodyweight, fight the battle of the bulge, and reduce your risk of obesity:

  • Build muscle with properly designed strength training and conditioning program. Incorporate regular, proper progression to encourage new stimuli and promote muscular and metabolic adaptations to fuel post-workout energy expenditure.
  • Increase “non-exercise” physical activity. Simply put, sit less and move more. Get out for a walk, do some yard work, or ride a bike. Pick something you enjoy that gets you up and moving.
  • Stay consistent with your nutrition and eating habits. Developing unhealthy or unsustainable nutritional habits can have disastrous consequences on your body’s body weight regulation. Avoid the tendency to "hop around" with your eating habits and change them based on what some celebrity or your friend is doing. Avoid extreme diets as these come with the risk of long-term overcompensations that can be challenging to change.
  • Nutritional habits must be sustainable or they will not be successful. Sustainable actions produce optimum results. Your eating habits should be developed around practical application and science, not cookie-cutter planning or gimmicks. This is where individual considerations must be made and working with a professional has tremendous value.
  • Sleep 7-9 hours each night. Sleep is an incredibly powerful tool in promoting an optimal hormonal environment for proper bodyweight regulation.
  • Develop strong social support networks. Surround yourself with people who are like-minded and will support your health, fitness, and wellness goals.
  • Realize you are responsible for you. Despite having the best training program or the best nutritional program or the best support network possible, you are ultimately in the driver’s seat and results will not come unless you put those plans into action. Commitment to consistent, sustainable action is the key. This is not an 20-day or 12-week fix. These are habits that are meant to last a lifetime. Recognize your responsibility and commit to it.
Bottom Line
We must eat, move, and live better if we are going to prevent unwanted weight gain and control our bodyweight.  The health and fitness world can sometimes be a confusing place, but it doesn’t have to be. Let us help you make sense of it all and achieve the goals you desire. Gallagher Performance is here to develop the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies — unique and personal — for you.

More related reading:

Dietary Fat Is Not the Bad Guy

Despite what you may have been told, fat isn’t always the bad guy in the "Battle against the Bulge". Healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats, omega-3s fatty acids, and saturated fats - yes, you read that correctly - all can play a huge role in improving your health, memory, mood, and body composition. Let's take a look.

#1 - Better Health
The human body is about 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, leaving the remaining 3 % to polyunsaturated fats. Half of that three percent is omega-3 fats, and that balance needs to be maintained. Vegetable oils contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats, and these oils have replaced many of the saturated fats in our diets since the 1950s.

The body is in a constant state of rebuilding cells and producing hormones, two processes in which fats have a very important role. Regardless of what we consume through our diets, our bodies use the building blocks we give it. When we give it a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats instead of the ratios it needs, it has no choice but to incorporate these fats into our cells during cell repair and creation.

The problem is that polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and oxidize easily in the body. In fact, they oxidize and become unstable during food processing and even light exposure while sitting in the grocery store. The oxidation of fat creates inflammation and mutation in cells. Inflammation has widespread affects on health and immune function. Inflammation is associated with conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and allergies and is now being identified as a key component in chronic diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes to cancer.

Saturated fat is not the enemy. As a matter of fact, saturated fat is essential to optimal health and taking it out of your diet is a disaster waiting to happen.

#2 - Improve Memory, Enhance Mood
If you think fat only affects how you look, you’re in for a surprise. Studies are now demonstrating that staying mentally sharp and maintaing a balanced mood may be largely related to the type of fat you eat. Over the past decade, research continues to link omega-3 fatty acids to benefits ranging from better blood flow to improved mood and memory function.

The brain is 60% fat and thrives on smooth signaling between nerve cells — and the body refreshes these connections with a new supply of fatty acids. In a study published in Neurology, researchers found that those who ate fish regularly scored higher on a battery of tests for memory, psychomotor speed, cognitive flexibility and overall cognition. Furthermore, the researchers claimed that consuming EPA and DHA, fatty acids found in fish and fish oil, specifically contributed to the boost in brainpower. DHA has also been linked to decreasing the risk of Alzheimer's disease as well as overall cognitive decline.

When it comes to mood, studies show omega-3s can improve your mood. Research shows omega-3 fatty acids help nerve cells communicate better. This means feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine can get in and out of cells more easily, translating into a better mood. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health report that omega-3 fatty acids are as effective at treating major depressive illness as commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs.

#3 - Less Body Fat, Leaner Physique
Consuming "good" fats can improve body composition and make you leaner. This comes as a surprise to many people because fat contains a lot of calories and is more calorie dense than carbohydrates and proteins. But not all fats have the same effect on the body.

Studies show that the body processes specific types of fat very differently. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as omega-3s, are not stored in the body. They are used to rebuild cells and make hormones, resulting in an energy expenditure increase in the body. This means that your body will burn more calories. This effect isn't limit to just EFAs either. When consumed in appropriate amounts, monounsaturated fats such as avocado and nuts do not appear to elevate body fat levels and help support hormone production. Saturated fat sources that are rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), such as virgin coconut oil and grass-fed butter, don't get stored as fat either and promote optimal body composition.

If you would like more detailed information on how fats can help you achieve your health or fitness goals, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..