By Laura Bollinger, Christian Care Ministry Registered Dietitian
This week is National Public Health Week (NPHW) and the theme for 2018 is “Changing Our Future Together”. The goal of NPHW is to make the United States the healthiest nation by 2030. This is a big goal and as the saying goes “it takes a village,” but in this case it will take the whole nation.
This has become a goal because for the first time since 1993 the life expectancy of Americans has declined. You might say “it was inevitable” but other comparable countries are continuing to see improvements in life expectancy. In addition, we spend more on health care than other nations, yet we aren’t living as long.
Clearly, just spending more on health care isn’t the answer; rather, the answer is prevention. In 2016 Americans spent $3.3 trillion on healthcare, but only about 3% of that went toward prevention.
Prevention is key because it is actually easier and less expensive in the long run than disease management or disease reversal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if the major causes of chronic diseases were eliminated, 80% of all heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes would be prevented, and over 40% of all cancer would be prevented.
The major causes of these chronic diseases are:
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
Additionally, obesity is a growing problem that is associated with all of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 1980, the obesity rate among adults was 15%. Today, we have more than doubled that rate to 35%. Adults aren’t the only ones either; the obesity rate in kids has nearly tripled in the last 30 years with 1 in 3 kids between 2 and 19 years of age being overweight or obese.
What can be done?
As previously stated, the major risk factors for the top causes of death are diet, inactivity, and tobacco use. These are all within our control to modify. Research indicates there are four lifestyle factors that have shown to improve health and increase longevity:
First, we can reduce our personal risk for disease by making daily choices to achieve the recommendations above.
Second, and the focus of this week, is public health. Public health is vital because it creates the environment in which we can succeed at achieving these lifestyle factors. If you have ever tried to stop eating something, like potato chips, then you know one of the first steps toward success is getting rid of any potato chips in your environment. This is exactly what public health can do, just on a much larger scale.
Public health is more than just diet and exercise, it also includes healthcare, education, environment, and more.
What if Medi-Share was the healthiest membership in the healthcare industry? Can you imagine the effect that could have on our ministry?
As our CEO recently stated in a letter to Christian Care Ministry employees, “Consider this: Good health isn’t just about having a more enjoyable, lower cost lifestyle. It allows you to fulfill the Great Commission. It allows you to live out God’s plan for your life. Through good health, we can minister to those in need, encourage those who are down, and pray for others who are ill. Here’s another consideration. As a membership community that shares one another’s burdens, good health means lower costs for all. So, as we pray for good health, we are seeking God’s plan for our health, and ultimately, lowering costs for our membership. Health and savings. That’s a win/win.”
As previously stated, we have the opportunity to eliminate 80% of all heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and over 40% of all cancer in the ministry through prevention. With more than 375,000 members, imagine the impact we could have on the health of our entire nation!
God calls us to be good stewards of the body he has given us. By caring for ourselves and those around us, we can reduce the healthcare burden our brothers and sisters are so lovingly carrying for us. Together, we can create an environment for success not only for Christian Care Ministry, but also for our nation.
Medi-Share is here to help!
We have a team of Health Coaches who are here to offer comprehensive and practical information based on scientific research to our members. They have gathered extensive resources and put them on our Wellness Library just for you! Read articles on a variety of health topics including weight loss, heart disease, and diabetes, find delicious recipes, or pick a fitness plan that meets your needs.
If you need more motivation and accountability, connect with our Health Coaches to make lasting change!
Looking for more support? Download the Medi-Share app. Not only does the app put Medi-Share right at your fingertips, it offers support in the form of community groups and challenges. Join a group such as PrayerStream to post prayer requests or pray for other members. Join a Challenge like Faith and Fitness to receive weekly tips and challenges to complete, and be encouraged by other members improving their health. New challenges and groups are being added all the time!
- American Public Health Association. (n.d.). National Public Health Week 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from http://www.nphw.org/nphw-2018
- Flegal KM, Kit BK, Orpana H, Graubard BI. Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories. JAMA. 2013;309(1):71. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.113905.
- Khan SS, Ning H, Wilkins JT, Allen N, Carnethon M, Berry JD, Sweis RN, Lloyd-Jones DM. Association of Body Mass Index With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Compression of Morbidity. JAMA Cardiol. Published online February 28, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.0022.
- S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2018, January 08). National Health Expenditure Data Historical. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NationalHealthAccountsHistorical.html
- World Health Organization. (n.d.). Overview - Preventing chronic diseases: A vital investment. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from http://www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/part1/en/