Apr 30, 2019

The need for lifestyle changes: grim statistics and actionable steps

According to the

, there has been a significant improvement in fighting infectious diseases and improving the overall infant mortality rate. However, there is far less progress when it comes to diseases caused, at least partially, by human behavior. that almost three-quarters of deaths result from non-communicable diseases, with obesity and diet amongst the most significant contributors.


Almost three-quarters of deaths worldwide are now from non-communicable diseases, according to a massive global study

We’ve gathered some of the latest statistics to demonstrate the scope of health problems. Top national health agencies talk about the importance of lifestyle and behavior change to improve the situation. Below are some facts and numbers you need to know.

Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in the world. According to Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2017 Report, cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the US. That’s about 1 in  3 deaths in the US.


The American Heart Association gauges the cardiovascular health of the nation by tracking seven key health factors and behaviors that increase risks for heart disease and stroke. “Life’s Simple 7”: not-smoking, physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, and control of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

High Blood Pressure: According to the new guidelines of the American Heart Association released in November 2017, 46% of Americans are now considered to be in the high blood pressure category. The new norm is less than 120/80 rather than 130/180, which classifies 103.3 million Americans as having high blood pressure.


The American Heart Association suggests the following lifestyle changes to reduce high blood pressure: eat a well-balanced & low-salt diet, limit alcohol, enjoy regular physical activity, manage stress, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, take your medications properly, and know your numbers.

Diabetes: In 2017, The National Diabetes Statistics Report stated that an estimated 30.3 million people of all ages — or 9.4% of the U.S. population — had diabetes in 2015. An estimated 33.9% of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (84.1 million people) had prediabetes in 2015 and nearly half (48.3%) of adults aged 65 years or older had prediabetes.

The future forecasts state that the prevalence of diabetes will increase by 54% to more than 54.9 million Americans between 2015 and 2030. Diabetes caused 1.43 million deaths in 2016, an increase of 31.1% since 2006.

Risk factors that lead to diabetes include smoking, overweight, and obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood glucose. All of these factors can be controlled and mitigated with lifestyle change.

Obesity:

, adult obesity rates are the highest in the United States. More than one in two adults and nearly one in six children are overweight or obese. Their projections show a steady increase in obesity rates until at least 2030. Obesity levels are expected to be particularly high in the United States, Mexico, and England, where 47%, 39% and 35% of the population respectively are projected to be obese in 2030.

To reduce the rates of obesity, OECD advises increasing education through:

a. Updating communication policies in school-based, worksite, and primary care interventions,

b. Improving regulations around food labeling and education around reading food labels.

c. Increasing awareness of healthier food consumption through mass media.

d. Using social media and new technologies as tools for public health promotion.

Cognitive decline: According to the 2017 study from UCLA, approximately 6.08 million Americans had either clinical Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment in 2017 and that will grow to 15.0 million by 2060. It’s alarming to know that in 2017, 46.7 million Americans had preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, although many may not progress to clinical disease during their lifetimes.


Based on the article in Harvard Health, the following healthy habits may help ward off Alzheimer’s: exercise, Mediterranean diet, a good amount of sleep, learning new things, connecting socially, and minimal alcohol intake (a few glasses of red wine a week are actually good for you).

Improving Health with Lifestyle Changes

Statistics show that despite technological advancements and medical breakthroughs, each person has to learn to take care of their health. Prevention is key and the best way to live a healthier life is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and stick to them.

There are no quick fixes but here are 5 tricks to a sustained behavior change:

1. Create S.M.A.R.T goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

2. Make small steps towards a new behavior instead of setting up yourself for unrealistic and high expectations.

3. Celebrate small wins and find healthy ways to reward yourself.

4. Relapses are normal, so try to eliminate negative self-talk and use self-compassion instead.

5. Surround yourself with supportive people who will be cheering you up when things get tough.

To tell the truth, they are no cutting corners towards making long-lasting behavior changes and it may take from 6 months to a year to train your brain to be used to a new habit. To make it long lasting, behavior change should be a gradual and gentle process. You can do it!

Get help!

When you decide to make a new habit or change your behavior, try to get some social support from your family, friends, and coworkers. In some instances, professional help can help you to increase the chances of your success in behavior change.

Schedule a free consultation with a certified coach or mindfulness-informed therapist. Changing your old ways and switching to a healthier lifestyle is hard, but we are here to help!

Experience wellbeing with awarenow. We make your change easier!

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