Cost Factors - Lifestyle Choices

It could be said that Americans are our own worst enemy when it comes to our health. Many of us choose items not found in the basic food groups; instead, we prefer junk food, deep-fried food and too much food.

Obesity is now considered the No. 1 health problem in the United States. A Kansas Health Institute report indicated that in 2001, 22 percent of adult Kansans were considered obese; that’s up from 13 percent in 1992.

Despite the substantial benefits of physical activity in the prevention of overweight and obesity, less than half of adults in Kansas obtain the recommended level of physical activity of 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least three days per week. More than one-fourth of Kansas adults engage in no leisure-time physical activity of any kind.

Poor food choices and little or no physical exercise is a dangerous combination for many people. A host of ailments, ranging from heart disease to diabetes to skeletal problems, are linked directly to poor diet and lack of exercise. Those of us who choose to smoke dramatically increase our chances for many serious conditions, including cancer, heart disease and stroke. Excessive use of alcohol contributes to liver disease and other ailments.

In addition to the health risks associated with smoking, many Americans take other risks with their physical well-being. Many ride in cars without wearing seat belts, or go biking without the benefit of protective head gear. Often times the risks we take result in injuries to our bodies.

We also live in a violent society where our actions toward each other often result in the need for medical care. Violence that occurs on the street and in our homes accounts for a large portion of our health care costs.

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