ICYMI: Washington Post – Obesity Poised to Overtake Tobacco as the Number One Preventable Cause of Cancer
- A new Washington Post story about how chronic diseases are driving down life expectancy in the U.S. points to obesity as one of the greatest threats to public health: “The rate of obesity deaths for adults 35 to 64 doubled from 1979 to 2000, then doubled again from 2000 to 2019….Obesity is one reason progress against heart disease, after accelerating between 1980 and 2000, has slowed, experts say. Obesity is poised to overtake tobacco as the No. 1 preventable cause of cancer, according to Otis Brawley, an oncologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University.”
- Geographic, racial, and socioeconomic inequity are fueling obesity rates and early deaths: “The geographical footprint of early death is vast: In a quarter of the nation’s counties, mostly in the South and Midwest, working-age people are dying at a higher rate than 40 years ago…This phenomenon is exacerbated by the country’s economic, political and racial divides. America is increasingly a country of haves and have-nots, measured not just by bank accounts and property values but also by vital signs and grave markers.”
- The failure of our healthcare system to provide adequate obesity care has contributed to the rise in early deaths: “The mortality crisis did not flare overnight. It has developed over decades, with early deaths an extreme manifestation of an underlying deterioration of health and a failure of the health system to respond …Chronic conditions thrive in a sink-or-swim culture, with the U.S. government spending far less than peer countries on preventive medicine and social welfare generally.”
- A lack of political will prevents medical advances in obesity care from reaching those who need it most: “Chronic diseases, she [Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of medicine, public health and management at Yale University] said, don’t spark the sense of urgency among national leaders and the public that a novel virus did”….Medical science could help turn things around. Diabetes patients are benefiting from new drugs … But insurance companies, slow to see obesity as a disease, often decline to pay for the drugs for people who do not have diabetes.”
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WASHINGTON POST: An Epidemic of Chronic Illness Is Killing Us Too Soon
The United States is failing at a fundamental mission — keeping people alive.
After decades of progress, life expectancy — long regarded as a singular benchmark of a nation’s success — peaked in 2014 at 78.9 years, then drifted downward even before the coronavirus pandemic. Among wealthy nations, the United States in recent decades went from the middle of the pack to being an outlier. And it continues to fall further and further behind.
A year-long Washington Post examination reveals that this erosion in life spans is deeper and broader than widely recognized, afflicting a far-reaching swath of the United States.
While opioids and gun violence have rightly seized the public’s attention, stealing hundreds of thousands of lives, chronic diseases are the greatest threat, killing far more people between 35 and 64 every year, The Post’s analysis of mortality data found.
Heart disease and cancer remained, even at the height of the pandemic, the leading causes of death for people 35 to 64. And many other conditions — private tragedies that unfold in tens of millions of U.S. households — have become more common, including diabetes and liver disease. These chronic ailments are the primary reason American life expectancy has been poor compared with other nations.
Read the full story at Washington Post …
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The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease (HECCD) believes that all people deserve the best possible health care. Continuing to allow outdated coverage policies to restrict access for communities dependent on public programs is counter to the principles of health equity. The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease’s mission is to ensure that community experts, policy makers, providers, and other stakeholders work together to eliminate barriers to healthcare for communities of color, especially as related to access to care and treatment for obesity and other chronic diseases. Learn more at www.HealthEquityAction.org.