We all know how to be healthy right? Wrong! If we did, the world's leading killer wouldn't be a preventable disease. It turns out few people understand actionable ways to live healthy, and even fewer are motivated to do it.
If more money was spent on public health campaigns and providing handy, meaningful health tips to help people live better, fewer people might end up suffering from with the world’s leading killer: cardiovascular disease.
How can increasing government spending on wellness help?
The more actionable, useful steps people learned about their health and wellbeing, the few hospital admission would result which means saving money for the government!
Consider these stats:
- 68% of deaths around the world are from noncommunicable diseases (87% in high-income countries) mostly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.
- The most common cause of death around the world is cardiovascular disease: 3 in every 10 deaths. Of these, 7.4 million people died of ischaemic heart disease and 6.7 million from stroke.
Ischaemic heart disease means the heart isn’t able to get enough blood because of a blockage in an artery. Stroke, basically, means the same thing, but an artery to the brain is blocked. These blockages are caused by the build up of plaque containing cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue. Sounds gross right? These plaques are mostly formed from eating too much saturated fat, although trans fat and cholesterol contributes too.
So! Now we’ve got the science out of the way, we know 2 basic things:
- The most common cause of death in the world is from a disease caused by eating crappy food
- Most healthcare investment is spent on being able to stent open your clogged artery, rather than preventing it getting clogged in the first place.
If you were sitting at your desk with a cup of hot coffee near the edge, would you get a wet sponge ready in case you knocked it over? Or would you move your mug away from the edge?
What action would you take first?
Healthcare spending is back to front
As it stands now, Western governments prioritise healthcare spending in a paradoxical way. As Professor Marc Cohen of RMIT University mentioned in his presentation on The Multiple Dimensions of Wellness, the highest spending goes first to intensive care, then acute care, then general care, and last to wellness. After working in multiple ICU departments many years ago during my rounds as a Physiotherapy student, I know how many machines and clever high tech innovations are used there, so I can see how expensive they must be. However, this pyramid of spending does make you wonder: What if it were reversed?
What if healthcare spending was swapped around, with the highest investment poured into wellness, then general health, then acute care, and lastly, ICU? If more money was invested in educating the public about key, evidence-based strategies to maintaining health and wellbeing, the spending needed on acute care would be less. Anti-smoking campaigns save the government billions of dollars every year, yet actionable, useful public health messages are increasingly rare.
Don't wait for a health scare to start living better
Until healthcare spending habits change though, you can take your valuable health into your own hands.
Invest in your daily wellness. Don’t wait for your first heart attack to be told how to live better.
You know what to do, but can’t seem to do it
If you’re struggling to make headway and just can’t seem to embrace healthy habits, get help! There are so many brilliant health and wellness coaches around to create steps you can tick off everyday to help you achieve your goals, and keep you out of the ICU.
Be careful what health tips you read
When looking for advice and tips on healthy living and wellness, please always question the validity of the source. Media articles will say if they’re written by a health professional and have reference marks if they quote evidence. If what you’re reading is written by a staff writer, beware! And I say this with the utmost love for writers as I’ve worked as a write myself for some big name publications.
But! Magazines and online newspapers need a certain amount of content everyday, and they don’t always include valid science-based articles. Read from trusted sites, and find a qualified health professional you know has industry experience and knowledge to back up their articles.
Don't wait until you're in hospital to be motivated, and educated on how to live better. Do it now!