Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

October 20, 2013

WHOLE FAMILY: America could benefit from health coaches

I know what everyone needs. No, I really do! With so much upheaval in U.S. healthcare — all the talks about paying for it, who should provide what kinds of services, how sick people are, on and on — it makes complete sense.

People need a health coach. Everyone does. Everyone needs a health coach.

Think about it with me. Let’s start by going back 113 years.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death 113 years ago were influenza and pneumonia. Basically, in 1900, people picked up a “bug,” harbored an ensuing respiratory infection, and died from it.

In 2013, we are better at prevention and treatment of infections, so while influenza and pneumonia still kill people — No. 9 of top 10 causes of death in the U.S. — they’re not what cause the majority of U.S. deaths.

Today we’re dying of heart disease. Heart disease also accounted for the most U.S. deaths in 1950, by the way. Data from 2010 showed heart disease, followed relatively closely by cancers, killed more people in the U.S. than other illnesses.

And while heart disease has a genetic component, heart disease is a condition very often brought on by lifestyle.

Heart disease and its attending troubles are, unequivocally, related to what I’m dubbing the great health trifecta: diet, exercise and stress/environment.

Hang on to that thought.

Back to 1900 and, eventually, getting to health coaches. One hundred thirteen years ago, people died from preventable and treatable ailments. Today, though the ailments are different ones, we’re still dying from often preventable and treatable ailments.

Something is wrong.

At least one of the problems is many of us do not address our health until we are unhealthy. Consider: Many of us had regular “well visits” into our teen-age years. Our parents probably took us to a family doc, maybe a pediatrician. But then, probably in our older teens, we fell off the well-visit wagon and did not see a healthcare provider unless we were sick. In general, if you think about it, many people do not see a healthcare provider until they are sick, sometimes very sick.

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