2010: The year of self-responsibility
While 2009 was the year many Americans got smacked with a big dose of reality, 2010 needs to be the year of self-responsibility. The area where this is most evident is health care. “We need to invest in prevention and wellness programs to help Americans live longer and healthier lives.” These words, spoken by President Obama in a town hall speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on June 11, 2009 resonated with me loud and clear. I’ve been trying to do this my entire career. The problem is that fitness professionals think in terms of wellness and prevention, whereas our society revolves around disease management and treatment. One is primary care, the other is tertiary. In other words, prevention (primary care) is action, and treatment (tertiary care) is reaction. Most people come to me because they have been referred by a doctor or physical therapist, or decided it’s finally time to try and lose weight and get in shape. I can count on one hand how many people have come to me in good health and shape and said that they want me to help them stay that way.
The harsh reality is that obesity is associated with a 36% increase in healthcare spending. Private U.S. companies report that obesity costs them an estimated $45 billion annually in medical expenditures and work loss (Barrington & Rosen 2008). Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, is increasingly prevalent throughout the world. Considering the consequences of these concerns, it is time for the cultural understanding of “health” to move towards self-responsibility and prevention.
Our increasing lack of health is just one of the reasons our health care system is falling apart. President Obama has spent his entire time in office taking steps to repair and rebuild our health care system. A large percentage of Americans have been outraged that he would think of moving in this direction. However, many of those same people are part of the problem. It is time for Americans to take responsibility for their own health. Healthy eating habits, plenty of exercise, and ending the reliance on doctors to hand out drugs are necessary to improving our health and our health care system. When making those “New Years Resolutions” vow to make being healthy a permanent lifestyle change, not just a passing whim.
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